Thursday, September 9, 2010
This I believe
I submitted a very personal essay to http://thisibelieve.org not-for-profit organization that engages youth and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives. Enjoy !!!!
I believe in myself therefore I never believed I'd become a statistic or cautionary tale, even after dropping out of high school at 15 years old. Dropping out was one of the hardiest choices I ever made. I feared the stigma and inferiority complex which followed but time has shown me admitting defeat or quitting, isn’t always equivalent to failure. I can blame an archaic school system, environment, teachers who could care less, and/or my inability to learn the same as everyone else, laziness, etc – I won’t. Although, these things contributed to my academic failure, nothing pushed me down that slope quicker than my lack of faith in myself.
I remember mentally checking out at nine years old, sitting at my desk working on my homework for hours, in utter confusion, as tears rolled down my face. I’d eaten dinner, used the restroom several times, and after hours of school was still faced with incomprehensible information. Time stood still as I languished within my inescapable inferno. My father bone tired after a 10 -12 hour shift tried to explain concepts that should have been taught in class. I can still feel my face hitting my hands as I broke down….. utterly defeated. I recall looking across the room and zoning in on my corkboard which held a single sheet of paper with an enticing monetary reward system for passing test scores; $100 for a 90 -100 % score and something like $25 for a 75 %. Imagine how stupid I felt at that moment; I realized that I’d never qualified for the barley passing consolation prize. I retreated into myself that day; boxing up my shame, insecurities, and faith.
My cowardice allowed me to sit in class for hours, days, months, and years; barely breathing in fear of being called on. I stared intently at the clock, willing time to pass, as I strategized my participation volunteering to answer the few questions I knew. Years later, my fear and lack of faith in myself finally caught up with me – I was exposed. I stood on the sidelines as my class practiced songs and skits for our eight grade graduation. Everyone knew I was going to be held back. My family had moved from NYC to New Jersey the year before, what they didn’t know was this was the 2nd time. The unthinkable happened the following year – I failed the 8th grade again. My self esteem plummeted; I couldn't understand how a shrewd, avid reader, who spent all her free time at the library, could be so stupid – it was beyond embarrassing. Completely broken down, I convinced my dad to sign me out of school so that I could get my GED with the help of a program at the local community college. I lied – I really wanted to go away to Job Corp. I’d seen the commercials on TV which promised their potential students a High School Diploma, Trade, and start up money. Although, the program required students to work independently and teach themselves things they didn’t learn in High school. I was hopeful and finally started to believe what my parents had been telling me “I can do anything I put my mind to”. Long story short, I went to Job Corp and passed my GED test the 1st time within 3 months. My confidence shot through the roof after realizing that I’d pass the test because I learned an important characteristic – perseverance. I no longer allow labels to define me and have since renewed my subscription in faith and myself.