It has been mentioned a few times in comments (always kindly), and many times by me in my articles, that I tend to be kind of simplistic in my approach to pretty much everything in my life. While I am able to embrace this little characteristic of mine now, that wasn’t always the case. I waged war on being child-like for a really, really long time. To me, being
child-like and simple equated to being mildly retarded and plain stupid. And I blame that feeling directly on the handful of kids I went to school with at the Christian school, who all seemed genetically blessed with intelligence of Einstein proportions.
One thing that I can say for public schools — most of humanity usually falls comfortably smack in the middle in some crowd or another. Unofficial clubs, if you will. There are so many kids with so many issues with so many things to overcome, you can pretty much find a “club” to belong to that you rank in the acceptable middle of. For instance, I played sports. I wasn’t the All-Star Volleyball player of the team, but I didn’t warm the bench every game either. Happy Middle of the Club. I got fantastic grades in English, but Chemistry kicked my butt — twice. In my self-analysis, they balanced each other out. I could successfully hide in the Average Section of humanity there, and be alright with the fact that while I wasn’t going to be the President of the United States one day, I probably wasn’t going to be homeless, either. I was okay with that.
But, I kept ending up back at The Christian School, and just to give you some perspective of just how much I wasn’t in the middle of this club, let me give you a list of what those miserable overachievers do now for a living: (all but Audra’s names have been initialized to protect the innocent).
For an introduction to Audra, my best friend, you can go here:
and also, here:
The Elite Club Membership at The Christian School:
J. – Successful Musician and published Poet Author
J.D. – Seriously Successful Heart Surgeon
Audra – College Graduate of a really prestigious, exclusive, hoity-toity University with a Communications Degree
A.C. – Successful career in the Military; fought in several of our wars.
R.N. – Owner of his own successful business
S.D – A Military Linguist — And not just for one language — More like 5 of them, and all of them the really hard ones that sound like made-up Star Trek languages
And Me: Bookkeeper
And because I know just how wonderful and kind all of you are, you are probably thinking to yourselves, “Now, that isn’t so bad…”. Yeah. It is. You can be honest. Only one in this class was riding the Short Bus, and it was me.
Now, please don’t get the impression that these kids rubbed my face in their higher-evolved-brains. They didn’t. We were just teenagers, and by the nature of the structure of this kind of private school, none of us were privy to what the other student was working on. We used PACES, which were workbooks that we completed at our own pace (hence the name). There was no classroom teaching with a teacher at the front chalk board, or open discussions, or any lectures. We were essentially sitting at enclosed little cubicles learning at our own speed. So, quite frankly, you could hide from the brainiacs that you were stuck on Geometry while they were coasting smoothly along through Calculus and Trigonometry.
I worked really, really hard at hiding from this accomplished group of students my true short-comings. And during middle-school years, I was fairly successful, I think, about fooling them into thinking I belonged in their Awesome Brain club. But when high school hit, I finally had to admit to myself that the jig was pretty much up. I mean, they weren’t stupid after all. Oh sad day when I looked myself in the mirror as I was getting ready for school and told myself: Yes. I am the dumbest one going to school today. And they all know it now.
And then Jesus stepped down from Heaven, showed up in the classroom and made the announcement that He was blessing me with a new, even-more evolved brain than theirs because He loved me so much. Not.
Instead, He was a bit more subtle, and He gave me something else…perspective.
There were some key people growing up that probably have no idea how much a kind word from them helped this struggling girl come to grips with who she was. I think God used them to patch up bleeding wounds in my soul, and actually guided me to a real path of healing and acceptance of who I really was.
The first one, hands down was a lady named Kay, and she was Audra’s mom. Kay was the kind of person that one experiences. I could write for a year every single day about some of what Kay has said and done to and around me, and I still wouldn’t run out of Kay stories. From the day I showed up for a visit in that household, the woman treated me like one of her own kids. Kay made me do the dishes the first time I’d ever spent the night at Audra’s house. And she checked them afterward to make sure they were really clean. She has complimented me, and yelled at me. She never bothered to try to be impersonally polite — oh, no. If she was telling me something about myself, I guarantee, it was what she really thought. Just the effort she put into me personally was enough for me to feel better about myself…she isn’t the kind of woman to bother if she just isn’t feeling it.
The next one was a lady named Joyce, who was actually the mother of one of the over-achievers. I don’t even remember the incident that sparked the statement, but she told me that I always was the courageous one in the group, always standing up for what I believed in. I remember my little heart almost beating out of my chest with pride — maybe I wasn’t brilliant, but I was brave! And it was coming from a person who I really admired because she never seemed to be holy, just real. Holy people have always made me nervous, but I’d heard her say a bad word, and I loved her all the more for it.
Another positive perspective actually came from my school supervisor. While muddling through my paces, I came upon an assignment where I had to write an alternate ending to a book. When I turned it in, I awaited for the constructive criticism that always accompanied my completions. Much to my surprise, he seemed genuinely impressed. And believe you me, the man didn’t impress easily! He said in kind of an off-hand way that I should focus on being a writer. That I had a talent for it. Sweet! That had been the only easy part for me in the whole stupid workbook. And being a writer was something I could enjoy doing… I was elated that I seemed to have at least one talent that could compete with the Elite Ones.
I was the regular babysitter for that same teacher and his wife. They would take me camping with them to help out with their girls. Once, on one of those camping visits, Virginia told me that they just weren’t comfortable leaving their daughters with any one but me. That they trusted me with what was the most important things in the world to them. I was trustworthy!
Those were the adults that really off-handedly helped put myself into some kind of realistic focus. It is a lot of hard work to try to fool people around you that you are want you are not. And it isn’t something you can keep up for any really extended amount of time either. Eventually, the person you really are will introduce yourself to the world. My advice for those fellow Bottom-of-the-List club members would be that we can’t possibly be on the bottom of every list in the world. Find the positive things in yourself and nourish those characteristics. Always aim to be a better you, without losing sight of just who YOU really are.
And try to be kind to those who feel like they are ranking the lowest in their own sets of clubs at the moment. Who knows just how much of a difference you’ll make to that person later on. :-)
- My Best Friend Cheats At Board Games (birdmartin.wordpress.com)