I left some stuff out about my dad and it wasn’t intentional, I just didn’t want to get off on some tangent about it… My mom also worked. We struggled in other ways, we didn’t know we didn’t have money when we were younger. My parents did know how to manage their finances too — despite the fact that neither of them graduated high school. None of that really matters in the big picture of what we are talking about. Because you’re right, if they didn’t have that knowledge, they absolutely would have faced more challenges in terms of funds.
Your schooling experience isn’t uncommon and it isn’t that different from mine, either. I also got terrible grades and was a general nuisance to teachers, other students and administrators. So much so that when I transferred back to the county school after going to the city for my sophomore year in high school — as part of the desegregation program — my principal sat me down during one of the many times I was in trouble for breathing, and said,
“look, maybe High School just isn’t for you. It isn’t for everyone, you know. Some people just don’t like it or don’t do well for whatever reason. Maybe you should think about dropping out and getting a full time job?”
True story. Still makes me sad when I think about it. I dropped out. I quit. I threw up my hands and flipped them the bird. I got a G. E. D. instead. A few years later, I put myself through a certification program in computers at the community college. That helped me a little, but not enough, so I went back and got an Associates Degree. I actually helped teach American History pre-1865 while I was getting my AA. But that still wasn’t enough, so I transferred to the university and got a BA in History and Theology. I graduated when my son was 2. I graduated ‘Magna Cum’ in the top 15% of my class. Suck it, High School Principal!
I understand what you are talking about very very well. It makes me angry. Neither one of us deserved to be ‘given up on’ like we were. But I’m not so convinced that our schools really do prepare our kids to be adults as they should. For one thing, they don’t teach factual, objective history. They teach dates and rogue memorization. They LIE to our kids about slavery, about Jim Crowe Laws, about Africa, women and Native Americans too.
They LIE and they steal people’s history. They plant the seeds of racism, perpetuate the status quo and don’t teach critical thinking. They pander to the middle of the bell curve — such an uncomfortable place for the ‘outliers’ like you and like me. They didn’t know what to do with you. They didn’t know what to do with me. I used to think that was my failure. I don’t think that anymore. That failure belongs to them.
You will never convince me you could be a mediocre individual. It isn’t in you to do that and you are lucky to have such heart and perseverance within you. Not everyone has that — not everyone can keep going — keep getting up after repeatedly being kicked.
You and I have a lot in common. I feel confident in saying that you cannot be mediocre because you are not mediocre. PERIOD.
Outlaw — Outlier. What’s the difference? I should be on the pole. But I’m not. Did my education keep me off the pole? Sure it probably helped — but my heart is what propelled me forward and made me refuse to accept ‘mediocre’ for myself. Against all the odds.
I can’t wait to see what you’re going to say next! Thoughts?