"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." We've heard this saying often. Some obstacles in life cannot be changed. Instead, you have to make the best of the situation. This is great advice, as long as the obstacle you face is truly unchangeable/unavoidable. Sometimes, we throw up our own roadblocks. These self-made roadblocks are built on a foundation of self-doubt and fear of failure. It gives us something to blame when we don't succeed. Don't waste your time building roadblocks, instead focus that effort on succeeding at what you are afraid of doing.
To tear down your self-made roadblock you need to figure out why you built it in the first place. Doubt fuels our insecurities and validates our excuses. Doubt plays a feedback loop of "you can't do that, so don't even try." In tenth grade, my math teacher (Mrs. R) went out on maternity leave. In Canada, maternity leave lasts a year. I had Mrs. R for math since seventh grade. I knew how she taught, how she tested, and with her math was easy. That all changed with the substitute (Mr. M). He didn't simplify the material like Mrs. R. She made it so easy to understand, why did he have to make it so difficult? Both the grades of my classmates and myself started to fall. I thought, "Why even try? It's obvious I'm having trouble because of him. He needs to change." I threw my hands up and blamed Mr. M for my problem. I started building a wall.
It was after yet another test and my grades slipping even lower, that I finally realized Mr. M wasn't going anywhere. I needed to change if I really wanted to get a good grade. That realization broke my cycle of blame and put the responsibility back on myself. After all, is it Mr. M's fault if I never tried to understand it for myself? No. He was at a different level than me and I wasn't trying to join him. Instead, I sat down and built a wall around myself, refusing to risk climbing to the next level and falling.
I started bringing my textbooks home - something I only did to complete homework problems. I read the chapters he covered. I re-wrote the notes and added my own thoughts based on what I had read in the textbook. The next test came back and... It was the grades I got with Mrs. R! It was well worth the effort. I started to really enjoy Mr. M's teaching. He pushed me to a deeper understanding and ultimately a deeper love of the learning process. It was the first time something in class didn't come easily. It was the first time I had to earn it - and it felt good.
After years of reflection, I realized I bogged myself down in believing that someone "naturally smart" should never struggle with a concept. That meant I was stupid, right? Not exactly. It meant I was pushing myself beyond what was comfortable. But, if I worked on building a bridge rather than building a wall, eventually I would cross the chasm and learn something new. This would lead to new land to discover and more chasms to cross. Learning was an adventure!
We all encounter that concept that stretches us further than we have ever been before. For some that's in elementary school, or high school, or even college! But eventually it happens. You come across something that you don't intuitively understand and your normal effort isn't enough to figure it out. Instead of building a wall, be thankful for an opportunity to push yourself and get to a new level of understanding. You will love the view!