Today I’m going to talk about defining moments (I believe this is a title of a Sex and the City episode. I rely on SATC for late night TV and life lessons).
Over the weekend, my family and I reminisced about a humorous but painful memory of mine. There was a strange phenomenon that I experienced in high school – all of the teachers who loved my sister, Kelly, loathed me. I’m not talking about one or two teachers… we counted about five. I was a pretty enthusiastic student, so I got along with just about every other teacher - but these select five and I must have had some serious rows in another life.
One teacher, Mrs. Greenlees, was my cooking instructor freshman year. I was paired with a group of kids that either didn’t show up to class, or could care less whether our sugar cookies came out edible or not. I found myself stressed and doing most of the work, and decided to take a different elective the following year (stressed about my cooking elective? Even 14-year-old Kate was an over-achiever…). But towards the end of the school year when we were selecting classes, Mrs. Greenlees cuttingly told me that she thought it would be better if I didn’t take “Advanced Cooking.” I replied with a generous amount of sass, “Don’t worry, I’m NOT.” (Yes, I’ve always been told I’m mature for my age – it must have been my grown-up demeanor and not my attitude that intimidated her).
|That's me on the left at Disney World senior year.|
So much sass.
This happened nine years ago – and I still remember it clearly. Growing up, I was used to being told I was great at most things (thanks mom and dad for your words of encouragement - I still believe you can do anything you put your mind to…), and this was one of the first times I can remember being told that I was just not good at something. I had a bit of an aversion to cooking for years after this – and anyone who took psych 101 could tell me why. But once I got an off-campus apartment at school, and had someone else to cook for, I started to find out that Mrs. Greenlees was wrong about me.
I began to build up positive experiences with cooking, such as getting loads of compliments from Keith, and learning how to bake things from scratch with my parents. Now, I love trying new recipes, and I’m beginning to gain some confidence in my kitchen. I didn’t let my disagreeable interaction with my stupid (sorry Kelly, I know you liked her) teacher ruin cooking for me, and now it’s one of my favorite little hobbies.
Okay, yes I admit this seems a bit overdramatic and perhaps something I should have put in my private journal and not share with the online world. Everyone has interactions like this that stay with them – but my question to you is; do you let these moments change who you are?
One time while I was waiting to meet someone at Penn Station, one of those not-for-profit employees who want you to give them money to support wind energy development or some other important cause, said something to me that I thought was really interesting. While living in Boston, I naively gave a similar person my email and phone number since I didn’t have my credit card on me. She called and called trying to get me to donate an unrealistic amount of money for a college student, and it left a really bad taste in my mouth. So when I told this poor guy that I had a bad experience once with a similar organization, he said “If you always let one bad experience influence you, you may be shutting yourself to out good experiences.” Well said. I still don’t want to donate $50 a month to your cause.
I had a defining moment last year with running (you knew this was coming). I’ve said before how miserable the Brooklyn Half-Marathon was for me – I was undertrained, had no iPod to distract me, and was severely dehydrated by the end. I had already signed up for the Cape Cod Marathon at that point, and I distinctly remember saying to myself around mile 11, “Kate, there is no way you can run a marathon, this is too awful.” I stopped running for about a month or two after the race, and on the rare occasion I did, I didn’t do anything over four miles.
|I'm only smiling on the outside.|
I was almost positive that I didn’t want to run a marathon – my list of excuses was much longer than my list of reasons why I should do it. But then I did a seven mile run with my favorite running cousins and Keith – and I was hooked again. We went at a conversational pace, the weather was beautiful, and it felt so great to get my legs out on the road without wanting to stop. After this run, I decided I wanted to run the marathon, and run it I did.
|Smiling ear to ear!|
And in five weeks, I’m going to run the Brooklyn Half again. Not just because there are hot dogs and beers awaiting me at the finish line, but I want to prove it to myself that I have matured as a runner, and add it to my list of positive experiences.