When I first read about the writing challenge topic, my mind flicked over several different moments in my past. At what point would the advice offered be the most practical? (Or most interesting for a post!) When I was in primary (elementary) school? High school? University? Various points of my career?
One moment stuck out the most.
This was way back in primary school (grade 5). There were two grade 5 classes, and the teachers had swapped classes for the week to change things up. The second teacher was giving us some math work to do in class and spent some time going over it.
I was an eager student striving to please, so I finished the work quickly and put my hand up to say I was done, expecting something else to do. The teacher snapped at me, "What do you want? A goddamn brownie?!"
Inside my child mind I thought, "Hell yeah, I want a brownie!" But it was also a shock and it gave me some pause. I didn’t know how to respond to that. Afterwards, I would often think back to that moment and subsequent work would only involve "just enough." I would lose the strive to seek out more, to push myself.
Therefore, I would tell my younger self, "It is OK to push yourself; it is OK to want to learn more! Never let anyone else tell you to stop trying to improve yourself."
Many years later I overcame that hurdle, but sometimes I wonder how much damage was done from that moment. My brother is a teacher, and I've had discussions with him about that time. He remembers this teacher and has commented that with what they know about teaching now, her style of teaching was detrimental to students. From firsthand experience, I can't disagree.
I still had to push myself to put my hand up for this task though!