My second defining moment wasn't nearly as pleasant as the first but in its way has inspired me every bit as much.
I never did well in elementary school. From kindergarten through 6th grade the only reason I passed was because of the threat of summer school.
My reports cards were filled with C's and D's (barely passing) with the exception of art and violin lessons. (I even failed general music classes.)
Every year my new teacher would provide my parents a fresh diagnosis of my problem. These labels included hyperactive, dyslexic, autistic, retarded and brain damaged.
Once I hit high school I began to improve. I could concentrate more and my grades went up. But the stigma of my early school years stayed with me and, unknown to me at the time, I was pigeon-holed accordingly.
Years later in my first year at college I took an educational psychology course. One day we were talking about streaming in schools - the practice of grouping students of like intelligence and ability into the same class.
One of the students in the course had come from the same school district I had and talked about how much it had helped him being grouped with the brightest kids in the 'A' stream in high school. My high school. The one in which I'd been in all the 'C' level classes - the slowest dumbest kids in the school. A fact I never knew till that moment.
The feelings I experienced in learning this became my second defining moment. I was so angered by the discovery, I actually had to leave the class. I went out into the hall and paced up and down, silently ranting to myself.
I remembered asking my mother when I entered junior high, what the C in 7C meant. She told me it was just a way they divided the students. She knew what the real reason was I'm sure, she just never told me. (Good on ya, Mom!)
Every time I think of that day in that psych class I'm filled with the same sense of anger and outrage. How dare they shove me into that box and declare that was all I could ever be!
Strangely, my two defining moments have ended up creating a balanced push and pull in my life. On the one hand I'm pulled toward creative endeavors and derive great satisfaction from moving people through music and writing.
But at the same time, a voice deep inside is constantly pushing me to do better. To succeed where they never thought I could. To prove every one of the bastards wrong!
I don't know if this is the best or healthiest motivation but it's definitely an effective one.