A Blessing in Disguise

I have been told I have quite a few talents.  Sometimes it’s hard to agree, especially when I see and compare myself to so many other talented people. But, thankfully, those talents I’ve developed and the skills that I have learned over the years, have helped me in many areas of my life and I am excited that they have been added to my resume’.

My talent coupled with hard work in soccer provided a college scholarship.  I’m not sure I would have gone to college if it hadn’t been for soccer.  What many people don’t know about me is, I struggled in school.  What I mean by that is, I had (still have) a learning disability.

Reading and writing were my worst areas.  I had an IEP for speech and reading comprehension until 7th grade.  When you struggle so badly in these areas, you don’t think much of becoming a doctor or scientist or something with extreme intelligence.  My focus and my confidence came from soccer.  So when people asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, my answer was always ‘a soccer player.’ I wanted to be on the women’s national team so badly.  I truly thought that was my path, but God had other plans.

When I started college my main focus was to keep my grades up so I could keep playing soccer.  I had no idea what degree to focus on or any desire to figure it out.  I just wanted to play MY sport.  Sophomore year arrived and I remember receiving a lot of pressure by the athletic advisors to focus on a career.  They had me in a lot of different intro classes to see if anything would spark my interest.  Soon a flame ignited.

There’s something you should know before I continue… During this time my parents were getting a divorce and selling the house.  I was receiving a lot of my belongings as they were packing.  There was a bin of school work and crafts that my parents saved over the years.  This is where I found it, an IEP (Individual Education Plan) on me.  It brought back all the memories of feeling dumb, slow and inadequate. God has such a great sense of humor.  Something I thought was so horrible at the time was such a blessing in disguise.  

I used to swear up and down that I’d never go into the family business (Both my parents were teachers.) and then I took an intro to Ed class.  Surprisingly, it was taught by a nun.  This lady eventually gave me fuel to light my fire, but not in the positive way you’re thinking.  During this class we were required to write a paper on our beliefs related to education.  I felt very proud of my work and was eager to read her response. My eagerness quickly disappeared as she basically encouraged me to find a different career path.  It felt like I’d been punched in the gut.  I was going to make sure I proved her wrong.  I kept that paper for many years to remind me to not believe what people say or think about me.  We are capable of so much.  I recently threw that paper away.  I no longer feel the need to have to prove myself.  God truly can and does use our weaknesses for His glory.

I eventually graduated college with a 4.0 in my major.  This is where I realized that God blessed me with other skills that helped me be an impactful teacher.  Teaching came naturally to me, from behavior interventions, to breaking down lessons so all abilities could grasp the concepts, to interactive tasks.  My struggle with learning helped me reach others that struggled, too.  I used to see my struggle in school as some type of punishment but now I see it as a gift.  I have taught now for 9 years, working with students of all levels.  I’ve had the privilege to start a school based business with my students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) as well as pilot an adult day program for 18 to 22 year olds.  I have enjoyed seeing a change in character with students at the school – both my students and the students with whom they interact.  It gives me hope to see students accepting each other.

I have enjoyed teaching.  As of right now, I am a stay at home mom focusing on my two girls.  During my time at home, I have recognized my desire to impact more than just a few students each year.  I want more out of my life.  How can I use my skills and knowledge to help others?

I want to use my leadership and teamwork skills learned through playing and coaching soccer.  I want to use my organization and behavior management skills learned through teaching.  And I want to use my arts and crafts skills that have been molded and sculpted over the years by the inspirations from art classes.  I may not know much about running a business, especially in the restaurant field, but I do know that by having my own business I can encourage unique skills, accommodations and support for people with special needs.  My heart feels fulfilled when I see someone who has struggled for so long feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Sharing that with my community would be a huge blessing and dream come true.

I intend to use my talents and skills that God has blessed me with to inspire others to do the same.  Please feel free to share what fulfills and/or inspires you to help others.   This valuable saying has been attributed to many, “The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”

We all have a story.  That story can help lead you to your purpose, to your passion.  “The things that excite you are not random.  They are connected to your purpose.  Follow them.” – unknown author.

Thank you for reading.

Katie Clark