You Can’t Do That

you cannot do

I loved this quote the minute I saw it.

Yes, I’m one of those people.

One of those who takes it as a personal challenge to prove that I can do something if you tell me I can’t.

Some people have learned the fastest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t do it.

To give you a few illustrations, I’ll go all the way back to the beginning of my second year of college.

It was only about a week into the fall term. You know that period of grace when you can still change classes before they commit everything to stone. Deciding before I started my freshmen year of college that I’d never make any money as a writer, I instead chose to pursue a business degree. I attended our local community college with plans to finish my bachelor’s degree by transferring to a four-year school my junior year.

Taking general studies classes primarily my first year, it was the second year when I really started focusing in on the business classes.

After the first few days, I knew I needed to change my plans. I was taking classes like accounting, income tax preparation, bookkeeping. I hated each and every class.

Going to see my assigned counselor (a man I thought was about a dozen cards short of a full deck), I told him I wanted to switch from business to communications. I’d already looked at the available classes, planned out what I needed to do and had my scheduled lined up. All I needed was him to sign the slip of paper giving me permission to do what I knew I needed to do.

What I needed to do was take more than twenty credits each of my three remaining semesters so I could make the transfer to a new college with all my requirements met.

That particular semester I wanted to take twenty-four credits.

The counselor told me I couldn’t do it. He informed me it was impossible for me to keep up my grades, work my part-time job and commute (I had a thirty-six mile drive twice a day).

“But, sir, I can do this,” I said, trying to convince him I could handle the class load along with everything else.

“No, you can’t,” he kept saying.

The President of the college happened to be walking by and heard part of the conversation. He told me to come talk to him so I followed him to his office where he looked me in the eye as I stuttered out what I wanted to do and signed my paper.

I ended up not only taking all the classes I needed to, but maintaining my GPA.

A similar situation happened right before the spring semester of my junior year. The school I’d transferred to refused to accept several of the classes I took at the community college which meant the time I spent suffering through science classes wouldn’t count.

Only the two times I spoke with my new counselor about it, he failed to mention my science credits were null and void. Until right before spring semester. It wouldn’t have been a huge deal, but I was coming back for fall semester then leaving to do an internship for the remainder of my senior year. I had to get the science credits in then or I’d have to come back after my internship and take a science class to be able to graduate.

And that was not going to happen.

Looking over the options, most of the science classes were full except for one on geology. Asking the counselor if it would fill the requirement, he said it would, but I couldn’t take the class.

“Why?” I asked, already determined to not only take the class, but to get a good grade out of it.

“Because you didn’t take the first class. This is the advanced class,” he said. “You can’t take it.”

After much begging and pleading, he finally agreed to let me sign up for the class. I hated every second I spent in it, but I did finish it with a B+.

There have been many, many times I’ve heard  “you can’t do that” over the years.

Each time I do, it only serves to drive me forward, determined to succeed.

When I decided to self-publish, I heard about how crazy it was. How self-publishing isn’t the same as being a “real” author. How I’d never make a penny doing it.

When I decided to write and publish ten books last year, I heard how I’d gone off the deep end, how it was impossible to do.

Yet I did it anyway, and, as far as I know, I’m not any crazier now than I was before I started writing.

The point of all my rambling today is to follow your heart, do what you know you can, and not listen to those who tell you “you can’t do that.”

Do it anyway.

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