We’ve all had them. Moments where there seems to be pure clarity of vision and an instant understanding of something we hadn’t seen before, an a-ha moment. There was a time that I thought I had no gifts. Then a small insignificant event happened that changed all of that.
An A-Ha Moment
I was in 3rd grade. I had the feeling that I was not meant to be special in any way. My parents were always telling me how special I was, but they were supposed to say that, right?
I was a quiet child that struggled mightily with my lessons, especially reading. I seemed to understand math pretty well, but the reading thing was my bane. Reading was a jumble to me, but somehow I was able to find a way to make it work. It didn’t matter, my skill in that area was not up to par for my teacher. As a result, my teacher seemed to find me a bit frustrating and expressed her feeling in subtle and not so subtle ways.
I loved art, what kid didn’t. It was a time I could do something without being judged. Coloring between the lines was fun and therapeutic. But let’s face it; an A in art didn’t exactly win me the best student award. My math skills seemed above average, but that was dismissed because I couldn’t read as well as I was expected too. It was all chalked up to lack of intelligence, as well as being lazy and unfocused.
As the year progressed I learned to plow thru my lessons. My teacher would give me some extra help, but I could tell her heart wasn’t in it.
About midyear, part of our studies included animals from Africa. All the exotic animals enthralled me. The one that captured my attention the most was the Cheetah. I thought they were the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. I worked really hard to read all I could about them but it was very difficult for me.
Part of our lesson included writing a short essay and then drawing pictures of our favorite African animal. I wanted to do the very best possible, but it proved more challenging than I thought. My Mom helped me with my story as much as she could. I was pretty proud of my effort, but the teacher felt it was not up to par.
Then came the day that we were to illustrate our stories. I had never really done much free hand drawing before because I felt a strong lack of confidence. I knew that it was not an area I wouldn’t do well because I didn’t seem to do well in any area the teacher deemed important.
The time had come. I took up my pencil to start my drawing, but I couldn’t remember what the Cheetah looked like. I asked my teacher if I could use a picture as a reference. The teacher sighed and handed over the book with the Cheetah picture. The other students seemed to be drawing their picture with great intensity. I worried; would I fail at this too? I stared at the picture of that beautiful cat and wondered; can I really do this? I picked up my pencil and began drawing. It was wonderful, and I completely zoned. I chose every line with great care. I referred back to the picture many times to make sure that I was doing it right.
In the meantime, the teacher had crossed the room and stood by me watching. I was totally unaware of her presence. I finally finished it and had colored in the details including the spots. It was an ok drawing but, to me, it didn’t quite look like the picture of the Cheetah.
As I stared at the picture, I knew I had failed again, and a huge feeling of sadness came over me. Then I heard my teacher’s voice ask; Did you draw this? I couldn’t answer and just shook my head indicating yes. I was waiting for her to tell me all the things I had done wrong. Then she said; You drew this!, and picked it up and stared at it. I cringed, and felt like crawling in to a whole. I braced myself for her next response. Then she said; This is really, really good. At first I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly. But then she repeated it, and I knew I hadn’t been mistaken. I thought; She said it was really, really good. What happened next shocked me and it still resonates with me. She went to the front of the room and showed the class my picture and said; I want to show you what Susan just drew. Isn’t this great? Don’t you think she has some talent?
My drawing was displayed in the school art gallery (of sorts) for many weeks for all the world (school) to see. That was the time that I realized I was good at something and that I had something special. It changed everything for me. I still struggled with my lessons but continued to work really hard, and the teacher seemed to recognize that for the very first time.
Fast forward to today. I now know that I had been struggling with dyslexia. Somehow I was able to maintain an inner strength and belief in myself that eventually propelled me into an amazing career and to where I am today. All because of a simple 8 year old drawing. It was my a-ha moment.
We all have something special we have to offer the world. Sometimes it takes an a-ha moment to wake us up to what that may be.
What are some of your a-ha moments? What did they teach you about yourself? What are your special gifts?
Life’s journey continues…