I spent a lot of time making mistakes when I was a teenager.  Huge mistakes.  In fact, I think I’d call 14-19 pretty much a write-off.

But there was a woman in those years who did something for me that stuck even to this day.  She wasn’t a mentor, or a friend, but she was a teacher.  And she did say something to me that, like Jamie MacDonald’s comment to me last year at the Humorous District finals, changed the way I looked at myself forever.

Mrs. Gorski was my English teacher the year I was 16 in high school.  Despite my constant screw-ups, I always managed a decent grade in English because I really liked it.

One day out of the blue, Mrs. Gorski said to me ” There’s a public speaking contest coming up Paula.  I think it’s something you’d be good at.  You should enter your essay about the Canadian Identity.”

Right away my heart began to pound faster.  I knew I wanted to try it.

I don’t remember much about preparing for it but I do remember giving my speech.  I remember people laughing and then clapping.

I won the contest.  It was the first thing of any merit I had done in YEARS.  I felt solidified.  I felt amazing.  I came in 2nd in the impromptu contest as well.

I went on the compete in the city finals and I still remember the big stage so high up; I remember seeing the crowd in front of me.  I remember my fellow competitors.  I remember the rush.  I still have the newspaper clipping in my scrapbook.  🙂

I wonder what may have been if there had been something for me to go to AFTER that.  There wasn’t though, so I just went back to drinking and smoking pot.

But I’ll tell you, through the nonsense and hell of the next decade and a half of my life, that accomplishment stayed with me as something I was proud of.  Something of merit that I knew I had some talent in.  It may have been that grain of hope that God used to keep me afloat during the foolish years, until I finally came up for air.  I have Mrs. Gorski to thank for that.  I am forever in her debt.

Who was your Mrs. Gorski?

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