Last year, my grade 9 year, was probably the longest year I have ever experienced. It was not fun to say the least. I'm told that grade nine is not fun for most people. Apparently, it's the year of puberty. It's a year I would like to forget.
It started with a survey...
a survey aimed at finding out what the people in my class felt and thought. I needed help with getting up the stairs and getting books out of my bag. The questions were things like do you want to help Chaeli? Yes or no. If yes, what are you willing to help with? Then, there was space for comment.
The majority of my class said no. I didn't want to go to school the next Monday because I knew that people didn't want to help me, but I didn't know who said yes. So, I had a little mini-breakdown on the Monday and went to school on the Tuesday. It was the most awkward I have ever felt at school. I had to ask people to help me and I had no idea if they were doing it because they had to or because they genuinely wanted to.
There were some valid points made that you can't ignore - I don't want to hurt her, and I don't want to hurt myself. Two very understandable complaints. Then there were others - It's not my responsibility, she's not my friend so why should I help her. Those comments you can't ignore either. There were comments that were verging on the ridiculous. One was "Chaeli having a facilitator provides job opportunities for someone who would be otherwise unemployed". I'll let you draw your own conclusion on that one.
For almost the whole year, I was listening to my classmates say "If Chaeli can, why can't I?".
For example, I got typed notes and they had to write them, I was 'allowed' to be late for class and they weren't. All of these so-called problems could have been solved with a little common sense, but when puberty is involved all common sense seems to go out the window.
Grade 9 is the year when people are very self-centred and selfish. I am not denying that I was too in that mindset but I had to live with their selfishness as well.
I believe that people thought that I was just going to be grateful for whatever they were willing to give me. That I wasn't going to say when they were being insensitive or even just joking around about pushing me down the stairs. I told them what I thought of their remarks and they were shocked that I complained. They were helping me and now I was moaning.
General things that every 'normal' person does were inconceivable to them that I did the same things. Watching the Rugby World Cup Final, going to movies, knowing who's dating who. What, do they think I live in a hole somewhere?
People are amazed when they hear that I want to go to university. They're even more amazed when they find out that I do pure maths and not maths literacy. The assumption is that if your legs don't work, your brain doesn't work either. I plan to have a successful career, get married, have babies - you should hear the responses, how would you do that? is the most common response - just like any other 'normal' person.
This year is totally different. I am doing subjects that I enjoy with teachers who actually believe that I can deliver excellence and expect it from me. Having teachers who want you to be in their class because you can add value to lessons is a nice relief from feeling like I was just there to fill a space.
I am more optimistic now because people around me are more optimistic about my abilities and potential.
I was giving too much of my time, effort, and place in my thoughts to people who had no belief in me. I still find it hard to believe that they stole my mojo the way they did for the amount of time that they did. I spent a long time worrying about what they were thinking. I've stopped now.
I hope that you will try to see the ability, and potential in people instead of breaking down their self-belief and self-confidence, however unknowingly.
I'm in a better, more positive mindset because others are as well. Please remember that the way you think about people can be felt in the way you interact with them. Your views and thoughts affect people even if they are not voiced.