Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't get mad, get even

Back when I was in college I knew I wanted to write for a living. At the time I was hung up on the idea of writing television shows. So I enrolled in every writing class that was offered.

I had been in one class for a few weeks when the professor pulled me aside and told me not to come to class any more. Long story short, he told me I had no writing talent and referred to my work as "semi-literate."

Most people would be in tears. Sicilians just get mad.

I immediately went to see my favorite professor, one who had been so encouraging. Upon hearing the story he shook his head and said, "It troubles me that a teacher would do that to a student."

Then of course, I started to get even. Since I was a staff writer for the college newspaper, I told the story in print.

I got a call from the Dean, apologizing and asking if I needed help enrolling in another course. Another professor pulled me into his office and offered encouragement. That professor later told a friend of mine, "That kid will be writing for television someday." I never did write those sitcoms, but he turned out to be right in a different way.

Over the years I've run into people like that professor who tossed me out of his class. I call them dream killers. Managers without any creative talent who seemingly take pleasure in cutting hope down to size. I always think about an intern we had who was loaded with natural talent. I asked the ND to give her a shot on camera, and I'll never forget his response. "She'll never make it on TV."

She got mad. It made her work harder.

She works for a network today.

When someone tries to kill your dream, tells you your work isn't good, or implies that you shouldn't be in the business, don't take it lying down. If you truly believe in yourself and your talent, one opinion should never alter your goals.

I often hear tales of young people going on interviews and having their work ripped apart. Or people in college who are about to graduate being told to choose another career. Sorry, that's just uncalled for. No one can predict the success of another. No one has a crystal ball that tells you if someone is a late bloomer, or has tremendous talent that needs to be developed.

Only you can decide if you want to abandon your dream.

Next time you get ripped apart, get mad. Then get even by showing these people they're wrong.

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