I decided to start this 'career talks' addressing the issues that may be found at the very beginning. Every successful career usually begins with you knowing what you want and going for it.
One of the struggles that you may have at that stage is people telling you why you are stupid for not settling for something easier. You have no idea how powerful a deterrent this could be. It could lead to self doubt and a change of focus.
I almost heeded the Seligman theory at some point in my life.
Someone put in a lot of efforts, trying to make me understand why I shouldn't want as much as my colleagues, because of certain things he considered limitations. I almost acknowledged them as facts.
The seligman theory:
"Learned helplessness is when people feel helpless about overcoming negative situations because previous experiences has shown them that they do not have control over them." M E Seligman
It all happened during my academic sojourn in Hungary. It didn't just happen in one day, it was like I had to constantly fight to prove a point. My dad taught me to study and when you study, NO MATTER YOUR ROOTS AND IGNORANT STEREOTYPES, you should be able to pass your exams excellently. That is supposed to be the principle, right? 5 was the highest grade and seriously, whenever I spent time to cover the entire syllabus of a course, it was almost inevitable to hit it until I stumbled on a few ignorant sorts. At some point, I felt like it pained some of them to see that.
It was like study or not study, these people always looked for a way to bring me down. Just imagine when you stay up the whole night trying to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts because you are looking at the big 5s only for you to realize that if I knew everything, the teacher will look for just something, anything just to make sure that I don't have my full mark, almost like they always felt like that for some reasons I didn't deserve it. I felt like crying when I felt like a teacher was just trying to go out of their way to frustrate my efforts. It was frustrating.
But I wasn't really satisfied at the laid back lifestyle I was forced to adopt. It was a coping mechanism. It was just a means of trying to stay sane. The whole fight was draining me.
I flipped through the paper and I looked at him and couldn't understand why the heart of a man could be that wicked. I looked at another paper and it was filled with red ink while mine sat there looking as bare as ever with the blue ink I used. I told him to bring out a marking scheme and start marking my paper or I was going to do something we would both regret. I was mad Jeez!
Apparently, he didn't have one and kept telling me that the grade he gave to me was fair.
I asked him a few times and he said he just couldn't describe it.
I tried to outsmart him so I said "fair like that is what you think I deserve?" (I made sure I had a face like that wouldn't be a problem).
And he nodded.
I almost lost it at that point.
I just couldn't stand the whole crap again. I kept my cool and did not bother asking him anymore questions because I was too sure he would get me even more pissed. I brought out my notebook and told him we would refer to his notes from the class to mark the paper. I told him I just reactivated my selective hearing skills and whatever had to do with what he considered my limitations were being filtered in my ears, so he should just stop wasting his time with saying them, all I needed was to ensure he gave me what my work was worth and leave the explanations. (Sometimes, you just have to quiet all the external voices trying to tell you what you can or cannot be). Luckily for me, I had my note book with me.
By the time we finished, he upgraded me to a '4' but I know '4' was still less than what my work deserved. He picked on every slight mistake that wasn't even logical, including a spelling error that a million teachers in the world would have overlooked. Maybe one or two scientific terms he said I spelt wrongly. For instance there was a case where I wrote 'multiplex' cause that's what I heard when he was teaching in class, ESP with reference to English language, but he said it should be 'multiplet'. Since I got the whole definition right, I know several good teachers would have basically crossed the letter and gave me my full mark but this guy basically gave me a zero for that question even when I showed him in my note that it was multiplex. I told him but you should understand that we try to make these notes from what you say in class and as you can see, that is what I have in my note. Apparently, I wasn't even the only one that wrote multiplex 'cause he said "I don't know where most of you heard multiplex from because I said multiplet. Hello, the word should be multiplex, check your dictionary and if it's so important to you, deduct some marks and not cross out the entire thing.
He kept looking for excuses and excuses and at the end of the day, it was a 4. Imagine, from a 2 to a 4 in a matter of minutes. When I left his office, I thought of walking straight to the school authorities especially as he was still trying to be mean after I clearly caught him in the act, but then my good mind knew that was a very good case that could cost him his job. I don't know why I stopped to pity him but when I left his office he knew he was in for some trouble. He called me and started to talk and was like "if you want the 5, tell me and I'll give it you". No, don't try to make it seem like you're doing me a favor and secondly, this is more than you trying to offer me some marks. You said I made a few mistakes and because of that I don't deserve the 5, that's ok. Give me what I deserve and please, not what you think I should deserve.
I wanted him to change my grade on the school system so I could hold that against him. I didn't want him to say I was fabricating the story and he fell for it. I knew he'd have a lot of explaining to do why he had to enter my grade 2 times when it wasn't recorded in the school system that I registered for a retake of the examinations. 10 minutes later, I was checking for something else and I realized he had already changed it. When you finish writing your exams, it takes the teachers a couple of days before they update the results on the school system. It was so evident he was so scared. He couldn't even hide it when he was talking to me. I sat down and thought about all the consequences of reporting him and later made up my mind to let it slide. My friend kept telling me "You should! You should". I just kinda thought about how pathetic he would be if he lost that job. Anyway, if you're wondering why I let someone put me down like that and get away with it, I'll let you know that I am not usually quick to fight my battles. I have someone else who watches my back and handles situations for me. He didn't stop at me, he went on a roller coaster with talking and acting ruthlessly to students and he had a lot of reports piling up. From what I heard after I left, he got his hands really full.
After that incidence, I told myself a million times. You can turn the table around if you really want to.
You aren't disadvantaged. You aren't helpless.
If anybody dares to actively try to put me down, they better understand that there's a chance of them going down instead. Before they embark on it, they better weigh it out if it's really worth it. Ever since I reassured myself of who I wasn't and why I shouldn't be that, I must say, it's been much better than when I thought I was helpless and couldn't really do anything about it.
Want something? Go for it.