Mrs. Dombrowski, an Australian war bride, who was also my second grade teacher, wrote this in my second grade yearbook:
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night, the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” -William Shakespeare
Please! I was only 7 years old! I had no clue what these words were trying to communicate or what Mrs. Dombrowski was thinking!!
Why didn’t she choose to quote the esteemed Dr. Seuss?
"Today you are you … that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
Don’t both quotes mean the exact same thing?! Well … you have to admit … they are close!
Mrs. Dombrowski, although she never had children of her own, had chosen to convey two very different but oh! such rich possibilities to me … the little blonde girl who believed that her teacher walked on water.
First of all, Mrs. Dombrowski was instructing me to stretch beyond the simple yet wonderful wisdom of Seuss. She was challenging the 7 year old in me to think like a 10 year old … or a 14 year old … or even like an adult.
Secondly, the never-to-be-forgotten Margaret Dombrowski, with the words written in my second grade yearbook, was telling me, “Carol … I believe in you! You are made for more!”
Now … I didn’t understand Mrs. Dombrowski’s chosen Shakespearean quote in the second grade … nor in the fourth grade … nor in the sixth grade. But by the time I arrived in Junior High School, I was beginning to understand what my beloved lifetime influencer was endeavoring to say …
Figure out who you are … figure out why you are here …
Figure out what you believe and what you stand for!
Don’t just be one of the crowd …
Don’t compromise who you are to please others.
Think thoughts bigger than you are able to think on your own …
Stretch your brain!
Do you want to know what I truly believe more than five decades after Mrs. Dombrowski wrote those words in my black and white yearbook? I believe that the brilliant Australian war bride was declaring to an impressionable, wide-eyed daughter of the heart,
"Carol … any average second grader can enjoy Dr. Seuss with all his quirks and colors and 4 letter words.
But Carol … you were made for more than average … you were made for more than above average. You were made to be a person of virtue and character.
Don’t give in to the whims of the day and the fads of your culture … defy whims and fads with well-chosen values and with the commitment to noble character.”
And now … allow me to turn Mrs. Dombrowski’s opinion and inescapable challenges in your direction …
Why are you here? Why are you still sucking in the atmosphere of planet earth?
Are you here to raise a significant family or perhaps to take care of the elderly? Are you here to run for public office or to take care of the sick? Are you here to teach children to paint … to sing … and to pray?
Why are you here?
Do not short-change your life with mediocrity. Any average person can settle into a rut and be content with mere status quo.
But you were made for more.
You were not made for average … you were made for extraordinary!
Figure out who you are … why you are here … and be passionate about it!
Stand up for something noble! Let your one voice be a resounding voice of excellent values, immovable integrity and passionate kindness.
I know that I know that I know that there is not one common person reading these words today. Inside of each one of you lies a seed of greatness. However, … if left unfertilized and unattended … that is all it will ever be … a miniscule, nearly invisible seed of greatness.
It is up to you, as an uncommon gift to this world, to fertilize your great seed, which may currently be lying dormant, with big dreams and with goals both short term and long term.
It is up to you to pull out the weeds around that seed of greatness. Extinguish mediocrity and compromise. Choke selfishness and small thinking before they even have a chance to grow.
Discover why you were born and go for it with every ounce of creativity and passion in your soul! You will make Mrs. Dombrowski proud when you determine not only what you were made to do but more importantly who you were meant to be.
And so, my gift to you this October morning is a quote. Just as the words of Shakespeare were deposited in my innocent soul by a woman of great character and intellect so many years ago, allow me to share with you some soul-shaking words today!
"When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, He goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up His earthquakes or send forth His thunderbolts. Instead, He has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.” – E. T. Sullivan
You were that baby born 18 … 27 … 32 … 48 … 60 or more years ago into which a great idea was deposited. You have more potential than an earthquake or a thunderbolt. God has been waiting for you to become the force you were made to be!