- People that prevent you from succeeding are Wallers.
- Wallers suck!
- Wallers can actively stop you or indirectly stop you.
- I’ve dealt with Wallers my whole life.
- Wallers have told me: I’m dumb. I should quit grad school and change professions. I will be a terrible scientist!
- They are wrong!
- Use their negative words to help fuel your fire to succeed.
- Try not to dwell on their negativity too long. Find people who will help propel you to be successful!
In running, there is a term called ‘hitting the wall.’ It occurs in endurance sports when your body basically runs out of its primary energy stores (glycogen). The wall creeps up on you at about the 20 mile mark in marathons (26.2 miles). When you hit the wall… YOU HIT THE WALL. The wall causes you to feel horrible.
I’ve hit the wall in 1 marathon. My legs basically cramped up so much that I literally could not run any more. The wall forced me to limp the last 6 miles (with ice packs on my hamstrings and knees) to the finish! It sucked! Walls SUCK! Walls basically stop you in your path. They demoralize; they break you down; and they mock you while you’re curled in the fetal position.
A lack of glycogen in your muscles and liver is not the only wall. People can be walls too! These people are the ones who question your abilities, they will tell you not to try, they will make you feel horrible and they basically go out of their way to make you hate yourself. I call this obnoxious group of people, Wallers.
Wallers. Are. Jerks!
I think it’s a fact of life that their will always be Wallers in the world. Some Wallers are small potatoes: people who won’t loan you a pencil in math class on the hope that you’ll get behind; while other’s are Berlin Wall Sized: Constantly telling you how stupid you are and that you should just give up. In my life I unfortunately had to deal with both types of walls.
Stop Stopping Me! A Few of My Wallers…
I’ve had to deal with a psychologist in High School that basically told my mom that I just had a below average intelligence and that my mom was just a stuck up mother that couldn’t deal with that. My mom, my ROCK in my fight for intellectual-acceptance, didn’t take to kindly to this Waller. She actually filed a complaint with one of the heads of the Parkway School District because this psychologist did not want me to get accommodations for my LDs. How could a psychologist think I’m dumb? Am I?
After I failed my comprehensive exam my second year of graduate school I decided to meet with the head of the LD services at school. When I met with the head of the program they told me that I may want to look into a new career! They told me that most people with my LDs cannot do that much reading and it would be easier to just do something ‘business-related.’ At first I thought they were just trying to put everything into perspective, until I recently found out that they told that same thing to another person with LDs and ADHD in my graduate program 3 years later! How can a person like this, that is supposed to understand learning disabilities and ADHD, tell people with these issues to give up?! It doesn’t make sense? I don’t think they are trying to be malicious but I know how horrible even the slightest remarks about my intelligence can mess with my self esteem (especially when it comes from a professional)! Am I fighting a battle that cannot be won?! Should I go into business (VOMIT)?!
I’ve also dealt with co-workers that have made me feel so horrible about my abilities that I hated going to work! There was a time when I would get in trouble any time ANYTHING went wrong in lab. It didn’t matter if I was even in on those days, in their eye’s it was always my fault. The person that shamed me on a daily basis had a history of treating other people terribly because this Waller took issue with new comers to the lab. This person made me feel so horrible about myself that I broke down one day in lab. Yup! I started to cry while working in aBSL3 with this Waller. How many people can say that?! I started to yell saying things like, “What did I ever do to you?” and “Why do you hate me so much?” and finally, “Look, you don’t have to like me but this harassment has to stop. Like it or not we have to work together and this not okay!” This response to the belittlement was building for more than a year and was actually the perfect one, because it dramatically changed our relationship in a good way. It took years to get over how this person treated me. I was holding on to so much anger that it affected my daily lab life. Eventually I was able to let go of that anger and my work life and productivity increased dramatically. Anger sucks. Let it go.
The worst Waller of them all is me. “I’m Stupid! I suck! I can’t do it! Why is everything so hard?! I hate everything! I’m not going to try anymore!” I’ve stopped myself from trying countless things in my life because I was afraid of failure. I used to be so afraid of failure that I’d feel paralyzed to take on a new class, project, book, research experiment and writing papers. I’d think to myself, “If all these other people think I will fail, they must be right!” Ugh! I have feelings like this all the time. But the only thing that is different now is that I tell myself that I’d rather try and fail than never try. Stop convincing yourself that your Waller’s are right!
Scaling the Wall
I guess I used to hate you, jerk Waller! I hated you with every part of my soul. I’d grind my teeth when I thought your name! I’d scream when I was alone and I’d picture your face. I hated you! And I hate that part of myself! Wallers, like everyone, have their own issues. For whatever reason they think everyone with LDs or ADHD are stupid. We need to not be so closed off every time some Waller tells us that we should give up. We should prove them wrong! Use their words against them!
Wall X said, “you’re dumb” - You prove Wall X wrong by kicking ass at your next project!
Wall Y said, “you should quit” - Forget that jazz by adding that fuel to your fire!
Every time they say, “Can’t; Won’t; Quit; Loser; Dumb” – Turn their words into, “Can; Will; Continue; Winner; Smart.”
You know yourself better than any Waller will ever know you! Don’t ever forget that!
Don’t Dwell: Find Your Support!
One thing I do want to note is that proving Wallers wrong will only go so far. Success cannot be born out of spite. Because of this it is really important to find those people that support you! Support from your peers, friends, co-workers, family and classmates will help you more than anything else. Image a world where everyone helps everyone else succeed! Supportive people will help you through any task! Supportive people are jet packs! Jet packs help you fly over those pesky walls!
My next post will be about the Jet Packs in my life!