Close to graduating a local women's group invited the high school senior girls to a tea. We arrived and participated in fun activities and refreshments. Towards the end of the gathering, a lady approached me. She tapped my cheek assuring me with the words "no worries, you do not have to be smart; you are pretty and will marry well." Although I felt she meant well, I found the words unsettling and certainly uncomplimentary. The impact of words can be life-changing. Some we never forget as our lives move forward.
Often the words grow up is used in a negative contest such as "when are you going to grow up?" Images flurry through a mind as people ask our youth "what are you going to be when you grow up?" The implications to chose one station of arrival to define who we are can be a rather tough challenge.
One evening when I was in nursing school (for my RN) I had the opportunity to visit with a doctor I had grown to admire. We were discussing different changes in techniques of drug administration. After battling cancer and winning, his lease on life was fast paced and full of vigor. It seemed he could not experience enough and endeavored to do his best always. Later I was assigned a rotation in his office. Fellow students had told me to wear my roller skates as this man moved so fast it was hard to keep up with him. I arrived at his office and began following from patient to patient finding they were right. I found the rapid pace was not the challenge. The challenge was keeping up with the questions he asked me and his ability to think so fast. I confess I guessed with many of my answers and was lucky to get them mostly correct. We entered an exam room. He introduced me and followed with "she is a nursing student." She is not going to be just any nurse; she will be a leader of nurses." I was humbled and felt unworthy of such a statement. I wondered what he saw in me that I certainly did not feel. His words of confidence are words I will never forget.
When I look back in my life, there have been many times where one statement influenced my life. Some were from people being very unkind and others that gave me the confidence to move forward. Both can be an incentive to improve, but only one values the individual.
Growing up is not finding the one station in life to define who we are. It is an ongoing process. I can never grow up; I can only keep growing upwards.