One of the worst decisions I’ve ever made, I made in high school.

Always chose remarkable!

I was in 10th grade and on the JV field hockey team. The last game of the season, my coach called me over to the bench prior to the game and informed me that she intended to suit me up to play on the varsity team that day.

Talk about a major shocker!

Playing on varsity while in tenth grade rarely, if ever, happened. To say that I was surprised was an understatement. I was nervous. I was worried. But I was also thrilled.

I can’t recall if I did anything especially remarkable in that final game. But I was a player on the varsity team. My being bumped up early meant that the coach thought that I had potential. That I was going places!

Later that same evening, after the players loaded off of the school bus and shuffled back into school, I was stopped by a varsity “teammate.” This girl was intimidating in terms of skill, social standing and quite frankly, sheer bulk. She physically backed me into a water fountain and spat, “Just because you got to play today doesn’t mean you’re anything. You’re nothing special. Got it?!”

And then she left.

She had successfully put me in my place.

Always Choose Remarkable!

Do you know how profoundly that affected me? How damaged I was by her actions? Well, let me tell you: the very next day I quit the sport I loved all together.

It’s true.

I put down my stick forever.

I made a conscious choice to fly under the radar so that I wouldn’t be noticed like that ever again. For the rest of my high school experience, I purposefully never gave 100% effort in order to not draw attention to myself. I became so worried about what others thought of me that I decided I would rather them not think of me at all.

I’m quite a few years older now and I have obviously had the opportunity to see the error of my ways. I know now that I should  have used her comment as inspiration, not as a stumbling block.

Seth Godin once said:

Most people choose not to be remarkable because they’re worried about criticism.

Indeed.

That’ s exactly what I did in high school. I chose not to be remarkable. I chose not to develop my talents. I chose to leave the sport I loved. I chose to let someone incidental intimidate me into submission and mediocrity.

Since that time I’ve had a few people use similar (albeit less physically aggressive) tactics to try to tear me down. They use spiteful words, rumors or innuendo. They exclude, claim superiority or misinterpret facts.

But guess what? It doesn’t work on me anymore.

I no longer measure myself by others’ words.

And I try really hard to encourage others to do the same. Because, as I’ve learned, their words are meaningless. Words only have power if you give it to them. People only have power if you give it to them.

Remember this lesson the next time you’re being intimidated or bullied by that snarky co-worker, well meaning “friend,” or gossipy social connection.

Always choose to be remarkable.

 

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