Tell Me I Can’t. I’ll Show You.

It was close to the end of my Junior year in High School; only weeks away from being officially a Senior.  I sat across the desk of my guidance counselor to complete my final year class schedule.  I had been an average student, mostly B’s.  There had been some trouble during my Freshman year, but I had overcome those issues.  With pencil and paper in hand and a list of classes to review, the conversation began.

Mr. Cook was his name.  The only time anyone had interaction with him was during scheduling.  There were several tracks that I could choose.  College Prep Major was for those intent on going to college.  College Prep Minor was chosen for those that wanted to attend college but were unsure.  Then there was General.  This category was for the students that had no intent to attend college and were either going to go straight to work after graduation or planned to learn a trade.

I checked the box for College Prep Major and chose the classes I wanted to take.  Excited, I handed the form to Mr. Cook.  He reviewed it and then removed his glasses and laid them on his desk.  The conversation went something like this:

Mr. Cook: “Michele, I think we need to re-evaluate your decision.  I don’t believe that college is a good choice for you.  I feel very strongly that you would not do well and would not complete the program.”

Me: “I really want to go to college and I know that I can do it.”

Mr. Cook (interrupting): “Now, Michele.  You need to realistic about this.  I believe that I know what is best.  I am your guidance counselor and I do this for a living.  I highly recommend that you choose the general track and find a trade like becoming a beautician.”

Me: “I don’t agree at all.  I really think that I can do it Mr. Cook.”

Mr. Cook (smiling smugly): “Regardless, I am going to place you on the general track.  We need to change the classes you want to register for.”

He handed me the new schedule and I left his office disappointed, sad, angry and feeling stupid.  That evening, I felt a feeling that I had never felt before.  I couldn’t describe it but I knew deep within that I would prove him wrong.

My Senior year was almost over and graduation was near.  My grades were straight A’s and I won a speech contest.  I was to be the speaker for the ceremony.  I was elated.  My acceptance letter to college arrived in the mail.  The feeling of pride and accomplishment caused tears to run down my face.  I made a copy of that letter and mailed it to Mr. Cook.

From that day forward, I would copy and mail every Dean’s List letter; every grade report and finally my diploma.  I graduated with an Undergraduate Degree in Counseling with a 3.3 GPA.  Haha to Mr. Cook.

Graduate School was no different.  I mailed Mr. Cook my acceptance letter, my grades by semester, my transcripts and then my diploma.  I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Counseling with a 3.97 GPA and was a Chi Sigma Iota Scholar.  Once again, haha to Mr. Cook.

Throughout our lives, we are surrounded with negativity, dream crushers and words that try to cut us down.  It would have been very easy to follow his direction, but I chose to prove him wrong.

What is the moral to this story?  You can allow the naysayers to win.  Conform to their beliefs of you and choose to be less than you can be.  You can also become one of these naysayers and try to cut others down and squash their dreams.  Easier than the alternative.  I want this story to encourage you to do the opposite.  Don’t let the negativity win.  Don’t listen to the people in your life as they try to make you feel like you are not capable.  Don’t let them win.  It won’t be easy; believe me.  I worked hard; harder than I had ever worked before.  The determination to prove Mr. Cook wrong was my guiding force to succeed.

Take what others tell you, say about you, believe about you and do everything in your being to prove them wrong.  Mr. Cook never responded to my abundance of mailings.  I have no idea if he ever read them.  What I do know is that his belief and “professional opinion” of me drove me everyday to something better.

You can accomplish anything in your life.  You are stronger than those that will try to cut you down.  Do what is in your heart.  Do what you desire to do.  Most importantly, prove them wrong.



8 thoughts on “Tell Me I Can’t. I’ll Show You.

  1. Cathy says:

    This brought tears to my eyes! I had a similar conversation with Mr. Cook except that I had no real guidance and accepted that I wouldn’t make it through college. Really frustrating for me. Especially now as I continue working for major corporations and now I know that I could have done so much more with the right guidance and the right encouragement. Congrats to you for not accepting what he told you and for sending all those letters to him!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy says:

    Oh don’t get me wrong. I’m completely satisfied with my life. I feel I have proven him wrong. I work for the largest specialty retailer in the US and have a great family and life. However, I did not finish college and wonder what direction my life would have taken if I had a counselor guide and encourage me. I wanted to be in fashion retail and I’m pretty sure he had no concept of what that was.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. janet says:

    Uh, yeah, he told me I was “secretarial material”. When I asked him why he thought that he said, “Neither one of your parents are professionals, therefore, the statistics say you will not be either.” He didn’t know what he was talking about but I was too young to really fight back. My father was an electrical engineer and later became a professional engineer working as a consultant for huge corporations. He allowed me to take the college prep course and my grades were 3.3 gpa. But Mr. Cook told me I would be better suited for the community college at Marshall and that I should study to be a secretary….which is what I did for one year and then I transferred to Marshall University to study education. I didn’t finish college, though I came close. I do not wonder what my life would be like if I finished my degree because I feel I more than overcame his ridiculous “guidance.” What transpired in that office was similar to an episode straight out of Mad Men. He was an ignorant man who no doubt drew from his own belief system that women should be seen and not heard. I still think about sending him updates of my life and my accomplishments that defied his jack ass mentality. I wondered many times how many girls he fed that backward thinking to. But mostly I thought why didn’t he even ask me what interested me and what dreams I had. I don’t spend time remembering much about high school but his words I never forgot. He was never the source of why I fought to do more or be more. I simply thought he was an asshole with way too much unchecked power to mis-shape the lives of young people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thatwreathladymichele says:

      You said it all. And very well I might add. He did not fit the title of guidance or counselor. I do believe that women substandard in every walk if life. It was his way or no way. We are better than he is or was.


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