Writing helps me release the thoughts and feelings that are stuck in my head. I wrote the following letter at the end of July when I realized how one teacher's actions, many years ago, was still affecting me.
Though I did not send it to him (nor do I feel the need to), writing the letter was cathartic. I felt a weight lift off of me and felt empowered to take charge of my life.
I believe this letter has played a huge part in getting me to where I am today, 6 months later, and if you think you're holding onto something from the past, I encourage you to write a letter of your own!
An open letter to a former English teacher:
July 30, 2017
Dear Mr P,
It's been about 17 years since I saw you last. I have a few things to say.
You no longer have any say in my life. I'm releasing the hold that your actions have had on me. You taught me how to shut up. You taught me that my ideas were not valuable. You taught me how to give up.
You taught me that I will never be good enough or worth anything, no matter what I do. You ever so lovingly dampened the light, confidence, and gifts my 10/11-year-old self had to share.
Your abuse of power and your bullying not only did me a disservice, it was a disservice to every one, thing, school, activity, etc I have engaged with since. And English? Well, I gave all of my English teachers hell from that point on. I found English class to be abhorrent.
You did your best to extinguish my flame, and, in many ways, you succeeded.
The best part of it all? Despite this crippling hold your actions had on me, I still managed to graduate from high school, get accepted into good colleges, graduate from college, get accepted into the #1 Master's program in my field of study (at an internationally-ranked university), and graduated from that program with a Master of Science degree.
I didn't thrive through these experiences, but I survived and succeeded.
In fact, I will give you some credit (whether or not you deserve it). My inability to thrive in one area and my fear of disappointing other people and never being good enough has manifested itself into many different life-changing experiences.
I have competed in a dozen different sports. I have held several different types of jobs resulting in four different resumes. I have traveled to 38 of the 50 U.S. states and 18 countries. And so on.
Your isolating attitude towards me has helped me learn how to be comfortable and confident by myself. I've used that isolation to work on who I am, to learn how to be the best me I can be.
Though the Road to Recognition has not always been fun or smooth, I am grateful for this journey. I'm excited to to continue on with a renewed sense of self, a lightness in my step, and a grasp on where I need to go from here.
From this moment forward, I will work hard because it feels good to work hard, not for the potential of praise. I will allow myself to fail, will acknowledge that my self-worth is not attached to my failings, and will learn from failure instead of being deflated by it. I will succeed because it is my right to have success and will not feel guilty for having it.
I will not thank you for how you treated me. I will not allow myself to feel responsible for your actions. But I WILL learn from your mistakes and adjust how I treat and relate to others.
I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.