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I will be turning 50 in November and lately, I have been ruminating about what I have done with my life so far.

Amazingly, quite a lot.  And against some stiff odds and claims by people who said I couldn’t do it, or wasn’t smart enough, or that I would not amount to anything.  Yet, fifty years later, my track record is chock full of accomplishments that people said I couldn’t do.

My 8th grade math teacher once told me that because I sucked at math, I wouldn’t even get a job at McDonald’s.  Well, she was right.  I did not get a job at McDonald’s.  However, two science degrees, a minor in mathematics, and a position as a senior scientist at a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory are my counter examples to the amounting to nothing score.

So what have I learned in my 50 years?  That people are more oft wrong than they are right.  So for the next 50 (I am optimistic that I will make it even though many say I won’t), I am just going to quit listening to people.

If I can impart one piece of wisdom: when ever you are feeling left out, written off, persecuted by people’s assumptions that you won’t amount to anything, that you don’t belong here… just remember that in the scheme of things, it does not matter what other people think of you.  It only matters what you think of them.  And for the naysayers, the doubters, the haters — they are not worth one iota of your precious time in thought.

Don’t ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to…

Fleetwood Mac  (from the 1969 song “Oh Well” composed by vocalist and guitarist Peter Green)

You can’t reason with naysayers.  The only way to prove them wrong is to do it.  I found this to be the only way you can get them to shut the f**k up.