No doubt I was a hand full early on in elementary school.   It’s not that I was a bad kid but I did have a way of talking out of turn, often about whatever we were learning.

The teacher would say something interesting; I would immediately turn to the kid next to me and want to talk about it.

Then it was off to the principal’s office…again.

My principal was so patient. He would ask me questions about what had happened. I would tell him. Then he would paddle me.  I can still hear the sound of loose change jingling in his pocket as he stood there preparing to lecture me.  For some reason I thought that was too cool and kept a few coins in my pocket for years in an effort to reproduce the sound.

Anyways, the paddle was never all that hard, but it wasn’t fun, either. And after several visits to the principal’s office, he stopped doing it.

From then on, whenever I had a problem, the principal told me to go to the counselor’s office, sparing him a loss of time in his day and giving me someone I could talk to who understood how dedicated I was to learning.

Unfortunately, that didn’t spare me 100% of the pain I went through during that time. I was also dyslexic so that combined with my behavior resulted and inability to pay attention resulted in me repeating the first grade.  I still remember the feeling.  The teacher telling me in front of the class that I wouldn’t be going on to second grade because I didn’t learn as fast as everyone else.  Crushed me.  I knew it wasn’t that I didn’t learn as fast but that I needed a different way of being taught.  I ended up in some sort of “special class” for kids with disorders, which made me more upset and determined to figure out how to get out.  As a result, by my 5th grade year, through perseverance and a longing desire to get out of that “special class” I learned how to deal with my dyslexia and typical boyish restlessness and transformed from a student that failed everything into a student with straight As.

Since then, I have always kept in mind the power of looking beyond the situation to truly understand people.  Not just how they react to me but how I react to the environment I’m put in.  Maybe it would have been easier to just give up and stay in the “special class” but instead I set into motion an attitude of determination for success that has carried out into the rest of my life.

So don’t allow yourself to fall into a “special class” of life based on someone else’s evaluation of you.  Decide you want better, define what better looks like and prepare a path to achieve it.  Labels are usually applied with adhesive so don’t be afraid to rip an old one off and apply your own.