“You’ll never be good enough.”
I will never forget it.
I was 15 years old.
I was a pretty good student, always pulling A “s. I had a strong set of extracurricular activities that kept me busy before and after school. I had a good number of close friends, and a larger pool of acquaintances.
My life as a teenager was actually pretty good, all things considered.
Then, it came time to take the SAT exam, a right of passage for every United States student since the beginning of standardized tests.
My high school had a contest – get a perfect score (1600), and they’d buy you a car. I believe it was a Ferrari.
I actually didn’t know anything about that – but when I took it I got 780 out of 800 points on the verbal section, and my math was similar (I can’t remember that iteration.) They urged me to take it again because it was so close.
I did – and this time, I scored 800 (out of 800) math, but only 700 verbal.
They kept prodding, and I did it again. And again. And again. Each time the scores were slightly different but not perfect. The best I ever managed was that 800 math and that original 780 verbal – but not at the same time.
My father saw that I was killing myself but hadn’t any clue as to what was going on, as he wasn’t there day to day. He saw I was stressed about something, and I tried to explain but I’m sure it came out wrong. He interrupted me in the middle and said:
“Just stop trying. It’s obvious you “ll never be good enough, no matter what you do.”
It was both the right thing to say from a problem analysis standpoint, but it was the worst thing to hear as a child (or as a person.)
I have a tendency to keep trying things in new and different ways until it kills me (or the people around me.)
Him saying this to me then, at this point in my life, only has caused me to fight even harder to make things work. It was an extremely formative moment.
Equally, I realize that there are times when I should give up, and don’t, because I’m simply being defiant.
Because I don’t believe now, nor did I then, that I wouldn’t be good enough. I always believe perfection is around the corner.
What I *have* learned since then is that sometimes, 80% is good enough.
Originally Posted: https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-worst-thing-your-parent-has-ever-said-to-you
Originally Posted On: 2016-09-02