January 20, 2018

Be a glass polisher

I have had a lot of mentors in my life, people that I look up to, people who encouraged and supported me. They could have easily pushed me aside or told me I was never going to succeed, but they took an interest in me, and that has made all of the difference in my life. My friend, Dr. Jeanine C. Long, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Director of Career Placement and Development at Southwest Georgia Technical College in Thomasville, GA has had a similar experience. She sent me the following in response to my on-going request for people to send in their own stories of success, mentors, triumphs and more.

Glass Beach used to be a public dump. Refuge was thrown off the cliff and into the ocean including old cars, household garbage, and a lot of glass. In 1967, the dump, located in Ft. Bragg, California, a little coastal town in the northern part of the state, was closed. At first, the beach was a natural disaster but after years of pounding surf, tons and tons of polished glass looking like priceless gems were deposited on the shore.

In the 1990s, Glass Beach was reopened to the public. In the summer of 2006, I found myself sitting on its shoreline and I realized that my life was like this polished glass! No one had given me hope for college. My high school counselor even told me, “You will never get accepted by a college, but if by fluke you do, you will never make it. You just don’t have what it takes.”

Well, I did get accepted and it was by my first-choice college! However, I left after my freshman year. I felt ruined, worthless, and tossed away. Storms, rough waves, and circumstances made me feel like the pieces of glass that had been dumped into the ocean: broken.

Two years later, a single mom with a minimum-wage job, I returned to college. What happened to me those next few years was nothing short of a miracle. As I weathered the storms and was tossed by the waves, my life was being polished. Back then, I didn’t recognize what was happening to me as instructors, mentors, and peers washed me to shore as a shining gem. I was no longer broken trash.

The jar of polished glass on my desk reminds me of where I came from. Without the storms, waves, and pounding, that glass would be just glass. But want a difference adversity can make in a broken life!

Do you toss others aside as trash and broken refuse? Or, do you push them forward, gently brushing off and reshaping sharp, jagged edges, allowing their scratched lives to shine? I choose to be a glass polisher.

I would love to hear your story, too. Please take a moment to comment here with your story. And then, why not drop a note to one of your mentors to thank them for being a glass polisher for you?

I wasn’t kidding! I really do want to write about YOU in a future blog post! Tell me how you have overcome obstacles, achieved goals, or surpassed the expectations of others—especially those who may have underestimated you. If you want to tell me your story, but don’t want me to publish your name, I can do that too!

About the Author: Dave "Gonzo" Kelly (64 Posts)

Dave Kelly is the leading authority on student leadership and community service on college campuses today. As a professional trainer, motivator, and servant leader, Dave is an expert on all aspects of running and leading campus organizations and developing the character of a servant leader. Dave has 20+ years training leaders and advisors from student government associations, campus activities boards and campus clubs of every kind on organizational leadership and community service projects. He has trained students and advisors at more than 150 different colleges and universities and is the national coordinator for the APCA Serves! Initiative by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

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