I was so anxious I did whatever it took to get out of school
(Angry Boys Part 2)
Mowgli almost ruined me
When I was 12 I got teased for watching the non-cartoon version of The Jungle Book in cinema (GREAT film, by the way). Two girls from my class saw me in the cinema on a Saturday night and on Monday morning when I arrived at school they instantly began making fun of me for seeing a Disney movie.
In what was perhaps my most extreme reaction to teasing, I decided that I was going to skip school for the next five years… but sadly, I could only manage to convince my parents I was ill for a couple weeks… but I did manage to lie my way into getting my tonsils removed! Imagine going through all that length just to avoid a bit of teasing from a couple of people? Yeah, I hated school.
Steve Urkel and me
Do you remember Steve Urkel? He was the suspender-wearing, high-waist-jeans-hiking, thick-glassed “nerdy” neighbour from the TV show Family Matters. Whenever he would break something or do something wrong he always said the phrase “Did I do that?” in a high-pitched, nasal sort of voice. If you watched the show, you can probably hear it echoing in your ear right now!
What about you?
It’s easy to look back at your childhood, look at your own students/children through the lens of what you now know and who you are today. If you’re anything like me, you look back at how you were treated, how you treated others, or how you spoke to people… and you cringe. You know, that kind of sinking gut feeling that makes you feel horrible and say “DID I REALLY SAY/RESPOND LIKE THAT?!?!”
Did I really call a person that name?
Did I really tell that person they were _______?
Did I really treat them that way?
Did I really act like that?
Did I really respond that way?
Perhaps I’m the only person who thinks this way, but the odds are that – because you are human – you do too. The important thing to remember here is that if you feel ashamed, shame is not your friend!
Forgive yourself, ask for forgiveness and move on.
The flip side
Conversely, you can probably think hurtful things people told you – even the small comments or passive criticisms or name-calling. I can now look back at these things and laugh, but in writing this blog I’ve been reminded of how I responded to criticisms or teasing or comments intended to make me feel like less.
Back to Mowgli-
When the girls teased me, I felt physically ill. I remember thinking to myself how their teasing was going to ruin me; it was going to stick with me forever and I would never recover… and although it was something as small as being teased for watching what they said was a “kids movie”, I remember thinking “I just want to hide and go home”
And so I did. I just had to find a good enough excuse.
I racked my brain for an illness I could give myself and settled on having a sore throat. I’d had strep throat a few months earlier and this seemed like a good way to get out of school because hey, nobody wants strep throat! In fact, I faked so well I went into surgery a few weeks later! Maybe I should revive that acting career?
After surgery I stayed home a long as possible – a couple weeks, I believe – and eventually returned to school. But something happened while I was away. I gained more confidence and I saw things with greater clarity. I remembered thinking The Jungle Book was a great film and that I should be proud to have parents who take me to see cool movies. Also, the girls were making fun of me for going to the movie, but they themselves were at the very same movie! How did I not realise that before?!?
When I went back to school, I went back confident in my own interests and happy to have such a great family. I could even see the whole matter with a bit more clarity.
It’s amazing how the truth of a matter and a sense of feeling “free” is often just one healthy thought away.
So what about education and parenting?
Why am I writing about these issues that don’t seem to have much to do with parenting or teaching or education? Well… they DO actually have A LOT to do with parenting, teaching and education! They have everything to do with raising healthy, whole, resilient and adventurous kids.
Also, I will occasionally stick an article in like this because I think this stuff resonates with people. You know, the “let’s get real” stuff and the “let’s talk openly and honestly about life” sort of thing…
Becoming the “wholest” version of yourself
We’ve all got baggage, and it’s only when we start to unpack it to deal with it that we can move toward becoming the best version of ourselves. I like to use the phrase “Becoming the wholest version of yourself”. This simply means that our confidence has been redeemed, restored and healed, and we move forward in life with kindness, love and strength as a “whole” person.
Another way of explaining “wholest” is like becoming a completed puzzle or the whole picture. The journey getting there is one that takes a lifetime, and only the brave dare go on that adventure. This is why superhero movies and fairytales resonate with us so well- the characters embrace the journey toward redemption and becoming the wholest version of themselves. It makes for a great story!
It’s true that hurt people hurt people. It’s also true that whole people inspire wholeness in people. Be the latter.
So now what?
If any of your kids are anything like me, then they might be prone to taking things personally, developed a hatred of school, or have faked an illness to get out of school. I see it all the time. It’s a real problem that takes care, compassion, time, healing and forgiveness. So whether you yourself are working through something, or your kids are, here are 5 quick tips that I’ve discovered along the journey:
Forgive whomever needs forgiving, then forgive yourself, then move on. Forgiving someone takes back any power an experience or person has over you, including determining how you act or behave in the future. Forgiveness sets you free and it is a decision you make. Make a decision to do it today!
Imagine how freely you would live if bad things that were said or done to you never happened… then live THAT WAY! We have all been robbed one way or another. It could have been our confidence, our innocence or something else. Always remember, being wealthy is an inside job and a mindset that begins between our ears.
Think of who you will be able to help as a result of going through what you’ve gone through. This is “payback” (or “pay it forward”). I’ve started writing this year as a way to give back to those who have helped me along the journey, as well as share what I’ve experienced and learned both personally and professionally. Now it's your turn!
Keep exploring what the best version of what YOU look like and live toward that end –
Write it down, ask your closest friends, talk with a counsellor or life coach, meet with a faith leader, just do SOMETHING to move forward! Just don’t do any of this alone.
Remember, we are all on a journey.
The important thing to remember is that we are all on this adventure called life. There are mountains, valleys, hills, troughs, rivers, streams, lakes, trees, etc... The point is not in “arriving” (though when we do it’ll be great!); the point is learning to thrive along the way, whether it’s sunny or cloudy.
Will you join me?
What about last week’s blog post?
Last week I mentioned that I later found something I was good at that changed my school experience. I posted a short video last week of some sketches that I and a couple of friends came up with, and here’s another one called Who Wants to Be a Farmer.