Do I Belong Here?

One day, when I was in 5th grade, my teacher handed out a test explaining there were no wrong answers – so we should pick what we felt was best for the question. Something about the look of that test made me feel it was important. I scrutinized over each question – trying to accomplish whatever the goal of this activity was to the best of my ability.

I remember feeling anxious as my classmates, one-by-one, walked past me to hand in their finished exams.  I wondered why it was taking me longer than everyone else.

Was I doing it wrong?

Or maybe, I was the only one doing it right?! Finally, I finished! – Days went by, and as the rest of the class moved past this experience, I fixated on it. There was never a time I received that test back with my results.

Did I pass or fail?

Eventually, I prodded enough that I found myself in a small room one morning, before school started, meeting with my teacher and the Principal. They explained this test determined our IQ – those whose results were above a certain number were going to be participating in a special program at the public library once a week. This program would provide challenging tasks so students could further develop areas in which they excelled at.

I was not one of these students in need of further development. At least that’s what the test said.

So, naturally, I asked to join this group. I rode that bus each week to the public library – and I sat with these students…my classmates…my friends…and stumbled along as we were asked to build bridges out of toothpicks and solve complicated math equations.

Most of that experience is a blur to me now – except the unmistakable feeling that I didn’t belong. That insecurity has sat on my shoulders, whispering in my ears throughout my life. I’ve endured unbearably hard math classes, college lectures and business meetings hunkered down, hoping I wouldn’t be found out for being in the wrong place.

Then I heard this TED talk on the TED News Radio Hour. Amy Cuddy’s story spoke to me. It resonated somewhere so incredibly deep within my spirit – it caused the mountain of negative rubble to shake loose and allow rays of hope to break through. So, I’m sharing this with you – hoping it does the same.

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