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My niece was lamenting on Facebook the other day about how her teacher gives her temporary zeros on future assignments. She claims to do this in order to motivate her students. My niece was anything but motivated by this tactic and I understand why. You could look at as the teacher presuming you’re a failure before you ever get the chance to prove yourself otherwise. This would be demoralizing to some but effective for others.

I found myself writing my niece a reply in the comment section of her post with the full intention of being supportive, loving and kind. Yet as I began to reply, I also realized that this teacher was in effect, providing her students with a valuable life lesson not only to prove her wrong, but to realize and accept that life itself is full of temporary zeros…obstacles we must overcome. It also made me think about the fact that we have an important choice to make when it comes to these unexpected and unwelcome challenges. We can let them totally overwhelm us or we can work our way through them, allowing ourselves to grow, becoming stronger better people because of them.

Funny how reading about having a temporary zero for a future assignment made me think about my life with sarcoidosis. It reminded me that there was a time in my life before it but I am now challenged every day by this disease in knowable and unknowable ways. Today I live in a constant state of some sort of discomfort. Everything is harder now than it used to be. Everything.

This disease gave me the ultimate assignment. This disease gave me the assignment to decide one day at a time, every day of my life, to get up and appreciate the day that is before me. This disease reminds me that those days are limited for all of us, one way or another, and that it is up to me to make the most of them. I hope one day to look back at this time in my life and be able think of myself as an A student, as someone who was able take a difficult, unpredictable challenge and turn into something positive.

I don’t know what other temporary zeros life will throw at me but I do hope that each challenge pushes me closer to being the kind of person I want to be.

 

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