Did School make me better?
The answer to the above question is……….. I have no freaking idea. I loved and loathed school in equal measure. Loved because it brought me closer to my one and only love: books…..and I am a bit of a nerd. Well not just a bit, a whole lot. I am not ashamed to say that I was teacher’s pet. However I was not one of those kids that looked forward to assignments, homework, tests and stuff…those kids are crazy. I just loved learning for learning’s sake. Still do.
I hated school because kids can be really mean. When you dared to stand out, to be different, you were looked at and treated like a pariah. School taught me to conform to the standards set by the powers that be. And let me tell you, I am not the better for it.
I looked…..different. I was chubby. I had a weird milk tooth that was somehow always forgotten for removal by the mice that leave coins behind pots, …. wait, was that the tooth fairy?….Nope, definitely the mice. I tend to get my fairy tales and mythologies mixed up. Blame it on all those story books.
How many of us still get the princess and the pea and sleeping beauty mixed up? I do…In my head, the princess slept on twenty mattresses with one pea stuck between the two bottom mattresses (Twenty!!! What in the world?) and she slept uncomfortably because of that one pea stuck between the bottom two mattresses (Again: What!?) but she was in this deep slumber that was brought on by the evil witch and her red apple (but why are apples always blamed for the demise of everything?) and then she was woken up by love’s true kiss….right? Right?
Anyhoo, I’m pretty sure the mice hated me as well. I also had my nose in a book at all times. Oh and I smiled a lot (still do, unfortunately? Fortunately?). May be I looked bully-able. I was not yet proficient in the stoic art of bad-assery back then. I was painfully timid. I was a target for some pretty ruthless bullying back then.And the girls were the meanest. Probably why I have very few meaningful relationships with the fairer sex, … even if I am fair myself…. just saying!
My memories of school, particularly my O-level, are not the rosiest. Of course there were stolen moments of happiness, some awesome friendships formed that have survived the test of time and boooooooooooooooooooooks, of course the books, those little things that just keep me warm at night. I was once asked what three things I would take to a desert island. My answer was: a lifetime supply of books, lifetime supply of food and top it up with a lifetime supply of more books.
However, the other stuff was really bad, … tamalemirundi bad. My lifelong struggle with self esteem started and peaked back then when I was an adolescent (of course I know it’s the same for EVERY adolescent, but back off, it’s MY story). I remember not wanting to look at the mirror because I was convinced that the person looking back was a monster or alien. Because I was led to believe that the way I looked was not normal. The absence of a flat stomach, smooth skin and perfect teeth equalled ‘totally different’ and therefore ‘not one of us’ .
Do I still struggle with this self hate? Absolutely. It is not turned off like a switch. Although it is not as bad as it used to be.
So, school, Did it make me better or worse? …. what? what’s what? Look I’m bored already. Gotta go. I still don’t know. Don’t really care. Okay, you know that was a lie.