25/11/2010 by Sarah Ritchie
When I was 15 years old I had a serious accident in the school gymnasium. After a couple of months recovering from a cracked neckbone, I returned to school.
Prior to the accident I had been a straight-A student – always a perfectionist and striving to be the best at everything.
On my first day back at school I ended up – on my back – in the nurse’s room, crying due to both the intense pain, and from a sense that I had fallen so far behind in my coursework that I would never again be the A-student that I had been.
One of my teachers came to see me. She sat on the bed, listened to my self-absorbed crying and then said something that I have never forgotten. Her words were (which I remember distinctly): “Sarah, in life there will always be someone better than you“. She meant that no matter how hard I was on myself (to be the best), someone, somewhere would be better. Upon reading those words, and without understanding the full conversation, the comment may sound strange and somewhat inappropriate, but it touched me exactly where I was at, and profoundly changed my life.
From that time on – at high school – I was no longer a straight-A student (near enough, but not quite), but I was a happier person. I discovered dimensions in life other than academia. I developed a love of playing team sports, enjoyed time with my friends and explored the arts. I never lost my desire to do well, but the experience started to break the stronghold that “perfectionism” had on my life. I really believe that a couple of the fears being addressed through Canvassing My Friends are a throwback to this ugly little legacy of perfectionism.
Around 20 years later I was able to personally thank this high school teacher. I wanted her to know that I had remembered her words, and the positive change they affected.
Proverbs 18:21 (The Bible) says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue“. Let’s choose to speak words of life and encouragement to others. You never know…what you say just might change someone’s world!