Living up to Potential

When I was a senior in high school, one of the teachers I asked to write me a letter of recommendation was Mr. Poole. He was my favorite teacher, taught with passion and was the reason that I decided on Pre-Law in college.

Our school required that we give our teachers Recommendation Letter Request forms to help them understand what to highlight about us and to give us rankings about where we thought we stood in the class based on potential, acheivements, etc. They could then rank us in the same categories and compare both sets of rankings to come up with what they wanted to say in the letter.

When I handed my letter request form to Mr. Poole he said, “‘Effort Level,’ do you really think that your effort is as great as it could be?” I was a little surprised by this  and responded that he knew that I read the textbook more than any of the other students in the class and that my essays for his class were always my best work. And then he said something that still resonates to me to this day: “But are you really living up to your full potential?” Of course I responded with something non chalant along the lines of “Ugh, yes, that’s all I’ve got.” To which he said, “I don’t think so. I think you could be in the top 5% of your class along with Mary and Luke (names have been changed).”

I remember shrugging my shoulders and thinking, “I probably could be. I wonder why I’m not.”

This brings me to the writing prompt I was going to write today from 300 Writing Prompts. It asks: “Look around you right now. What is wrong with this picture?” Now, I’m at work, and it is easy for me to describe all the things wrong with my workplace. It’s easy to blame the people, the physical space, the energy, etc. But what’s not easy to own up to is the real, true, deep reason why you hate your job. And for me it goes all the way back to my senior year of highschool and that question that Mr. Poole asked me: “Are you really living up to your full potential?” And deep down I know the answer to that is a resounding no. 

I had serious plans for myself in high school and most of college. I was going ace law school, become a  top prosecuting attorney, and of course, master being a mom at some point. And if that didn’t work out, I was going to move to New York and write for a living.

And now I’m sitting here in a gray, windowless, doorless, depressing hole in the wall and constantly looking for things to do and new jobs to get. I decided to work at a law firm in hopes of reinvigorating my passion for law and get my butt in gear to go to law school. But everyone here hates their jobs and the more I evaluate the lifestyles of prosecuting attorneys, the less I want them. And yes, I’m still writing and trying to get published and get a new job that involves writing, but I am still not living up to my full potential. And the problem is, I have no motivation to. I haven’t had that kind of motivation since I was in school.

I’m still young, and I still have plenty of time to determine just how far my potential can go, and to try and live up to that potential. But for now, I took the first step, admitting that it’s not happening and that it’s not okay.


5 thoughts on “Living up to Potential

  1. StoriesforSophie says:

    I can really relate to what you’re saying here.

    When I look back on my working life (I’m 27 now) I know that I could have done so much more and am definitely not reaching my full potential.

    The thing is, like you said, I just don’t want to. I don’t want a fancy, high pressured job that takes up all of my time and energy. I don’t like competing, I don’t like confrontation, I don’t like going out of my comfort zone. I’m an introvert, I like quiet and calm. I’m not big on meeting people and I like to live an easy, simple life.

    I’m trying to learn to accept that and focus more of my energy on doing the things I love, rather than worrying about what I ‘should’ be doing with my life.

    Great post, really enjoyed reading it and it made me think a lot about my own life. Thanks 🙂


  2. Lunar says:

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’m going through some of the same experiences that you are. However, unlike a lot of working industries, I think the law is extremely diverse. Not only are there different practice areas (employment, personal injury, IP, defense, constitutional, environmental, etc.) but you also have different firms with different cultures or legal departments within businesses. The working environments for each of those places is likely going to be different from the one before it. Just something to consider. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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