Written by PushingUpRoses on January 26th, 2012

*ACHTUNG!  The following article has nothing to do with video games, The Monkees, or tape worms.  It is a speech I plan to give.  You may read it at your own risk.  Or you can go back to browsing the mature section of my art gallery for further amusement.


There is something to be said for being “the most improved student.”  When I was in Jr. High, there were awards given to students who achieved academic success.  “Most likely to succeed”, “Least amount of absences,” and the incredibly unappreciated “Most improved” award.  Many students do not realize how impressive the title really is.  “Most improved?  Doesn’t that mean you SUCKED at first?!”  And it does. It means you weren’t doing so hot in whatever classes you were taking.  But it also implies you stepped it up, and overcame those academic and life obstacles that may have initially kept you from success.

When I was 7, my family and I moved out of a small town and into a bigger city.  Being a quiet child, I found it difficult to make friends at my new school.  And thus began the 15 year downward spiral of despising school and everyone who went.  Up until 4th grade, I didn’t show any signs of being a troubled child.  And then 5th grade came along, and BAM.  GALLSTONES.  Yes, I was 10 and somehow had gallstones.  I went in for surgery to have the stones and affected organ removed, and when I went back to school, I found it extremely difficult get back into the routine.  Part of this was because I felt like I didn’t have many friends, and I feared the other kids were talking behind my back.  It seems quite silly at the time, but I was positive, in my neurotic, 11 year old mind, I was being ridiculed for having to have my gallbladder taken out.

Between the ages of eleven and fourteen, I longed to be popular.  It was almost an unhealthy obsession – I wanted nothing more to be apart of the popular crowd, but I was too shy, and I was labeled a loser.  As a child, it was impossible to foresee my future, not knowing that labels wouldn’t matter in college or beyond.  I became so depressed and self conscious about myself, that I didn’t care about learning, or making the best out of my education.  I was blinded by my own selfish thoughts and wants.  The longer I went to school, the more I hated myself.   So I did terribly.  Present me would absolutely hate past me.  I would kick my own ass if I knew myself back then.

I started high school with the same morose thoughts leaking over.  I did not care to learn in my classes.  I just wanted out.  I fell into the awful category of people who go around spouting, “Why am I learning THIS?  I will never use this in real life!  Screw this garbage.”  To make matters worse, my father was suffering with cancer at the time.  When he died, my apathy for school turned into pure, irrational hatred.  I was kicked out of public school and put into an alternative school.  After my fathers passing, I dropped out.

It’d be easy to say that I dropped out due to my Father’s death, but it only played one factor in my decision.  My father’s death was tragic, and of course affected me a great deal, but wasn’t the main problem keeping me from fulfilling my academic goals.  It put a strain on things, but at that point, I still didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing with my education.

My mom pushed me to get my GED, and thank god she did.  I owe her one.  Even though I wasn’t very dedicated to going to my GED study courses, I passed, and it was enough to get me into college.

Without even thinking, I started college without any set plans as to what I should major in.  I figured, “Hey.  I can draw!  I’ll major in art!”

I loathed it.

Drawing on command?  Why would anyone want to do that?

I struggled with many majors between the ages of 18-23.  Over those 5 years, my motivation seemed to slowly climb, but because I was  so indecisive about what I was going to study, I never really got anywhere.  Fiction writing, psychology, illustration…christ, I almost went into phlebotomy!  And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with any of these subjects.  But they didn’t keep my interest long enough, and my enthusiasm seemed to dwindle.  My GPA was a 1.3.  I had flunked three courses.  Yeah, I was really going places.

It was not until I met a guy through some mutual friends, who was majoring in computer science, that I finally started to become passionate about learning.  Before I go any further, I must admit to you guys, I am a hardcore nerd.  Computers, video games, and anything technology related always fascinated me, but due to my ignorance, I never thought I could find a school concentration that allowed me to work with those things.  I fell madly in love with this guy, because he was passionate about computer science.  Always striving to be better.  I wanted to be like him.  He was now my hero.

So I followed in his footsteps, and with his help, I found a major that helped me learn more about computers and internet related technologies.  Which is a great thing, because I am pretty much putzing around on the internet all day anyway.  I suddenly felt like I belonged in school.  The ideas of being popular were gone.  Instead of my father’s death plaguing me, it inspired me.  I enjoyed being smart, and I enjoyed learning about something I truly loved.

After awhile, one of the school professors urged me to apply for a teacher aide/tech tutoring position at the school.  She probably noticed that while I was in her class, I was constantly helping the other students sitting around me.  So I applied, and got the job.  Teaching people has been a truly gratifying experience.  It’s a job that not only makes me happy, but makes others happy when they finally understand a concept they couldn’t grasp before.   My confidence was now boosted. I currently have a GPA of 4.0 in my core classes, and a 3.6 all around.   I still have two F’s on my school transcripts, but with my dedication to my concentration, I was able to combat the two F’s with a slew of A’s.  It was not easy, and it took a long time.  But good things are often difficult, and time consuming.

You will know when something truly clicks.  The moment you “get it”; the moment you finally understand that math equation, or that programming concept, is one of the most rewarding feelings you will ever experience.  And it is worth it.  Even if you think you are trapped in a class that you may not ever use, you owe it to yourself to make the best out of those classes, and get the grade you really want.   Pay attention to other people.  Pay attention to people who are passionate about what they do, and let that inspire you.

Someone once told me that a large part of intelligence is not your ability to *do* your work, but the ability to adapt to situations, and have an understanding of what you are doing.   I didn’t realize that when I first started my education.   I always wanted the “best grades” award right off the bat.  But I embrace my “most improved” status.   Never lose heart, even when you felt like you’ve lost it.  There are some things in life you can’t change;  some obstacles that seem impossible to move past.  But you can always go back and learn.

  • Derek

    This is very good Roses.  It’s inspirational and identifiable.  I experienced some of the same things.  Very well done, I like it.

  • Masser

    Felt almost exactly the same when I was going to school. Very Inspiring b(^_^)d

  • Maxameeleon

    Rosie – I am currently experiencing exactly what you described.  I feel like there is not a major right for me, and I do want to find something.  So this is especially inspiring for me.  Thank you.  I will continue my search.

  • Derek

    Relatable is the word I was looking for instead of identifiable.  Ugh, long day so far.

  • Dominic

    *slow clap, gradual build into applause*
    This totally goes along with my current status of senior year in online highschool. Algebra II and English 4, all I have left and all I could ever handle.

  • Anonymous

    This really was a great read.  It’s well written, and it carries a lot of emotional weight.  Congratulations on your improvements, and on your current success! 😀

  • Agers10

    Great speech Roses! I can relate to a lot of that and it is incredibly inspiring to read that you overcame your hardships.

  • Evan Gleason

    I’ve noticed that pre-teen and early teen years just suck, then all the nihilistic, self-loathing feelings start to subside when you hit age 16-18. I was pretty pessimistic when I first started high school, but right around age 16, I started to open up a little. I’m 17 now, granted, I’m still incredibly introverted but I have alot more confidence then my former shell. I’m gonna quote Blink-182,”Well, I guess this is growing up.”

  • Anonymous

    I was a recluse all the way through the end of high school.  When I went to college, it was like someone had flipped a switch; I was suddenly a lot more outgoing to classmates.  Granted, I’m still introverted, but I’m able to talk to people more effectively (usually they still have to initiate the conversation, though :-P).

  • Dreammirror

         I’m glad you were able to turn that around and find inspiration.  I did pretty much the same thing after getting out of high school-screwed around in college for years going from one major to the next, never doing good at anything and burning my parents cash :/   I didn’t get out of it till my late 20s though; I know, pretty sad isn’t it?  Still, its nice to see someone else out there who went through something similar and do well for herself. 
         For anyone else who may still be in that rut-dont give up hope!  Keep up the effort and look for something you LOVE doing and see if you can find a job around that–they do exist, trust me :)  Work doesn’t suck so much if you love what you do.                       -Dream

  • Bob Smith

    It’s weird how close this is to me. I had a 0.8 GPA in high school before they asked me to leave because I had no chance of graduating. I just sat quietly by myself for years away from everyone. Since I’m male that meant everyone thought I was going to snap and mow everyone down with machine gun fire, but I really didn’t hate anyone else, I just hated being there. I then sat around in a vocational school waiting to turn old enough to take the GED. Then, like you, I chose art because I didn’t care about college or know what the point of it was. Unlike you I didn’t even know how to draw. At first I just got average grades but then I chose a major I’m better at and got a 3.1 (which still isn’t that great). I may have to teach but I really never wanted to because I hate schooling so much. I’m kind of like a below average you, roses. Anyway, as someone who knows what it’s like to hate being around people and feeling generally unmotivated by life I’m happy to read that you got through it the way you did. Your experience sounds worse than mine so reading that you got through it makes me happy to hear.

  • NyaemalHrruna

    This could be my life story with a few words changed. I really appreciate your posts, but this one really hit on a lot of things I have been going through for a while now. As a 7 year-old kid, I had to deal with getting raped by a friend of the family (and again three more times as I got older by different people) and being put in the hospital for a good month, both of which put me behind in school. My older sister was put in a mental institution for trying to kill me shortly after. When I was 9, my sister committed suicide and I was out of class over two months in addition to the amount of time I had to take out for being a sickly kid.
     I guess the main difference is that with all of the insanity at home combined with the complete lack of opportunities in the town I grew up in, the fact that I was shunned for not being a Christian in the buckle of the Bible-belt by nearly everyone I met, the fact that I was 180lbs in the fifth grade and had to put up with the derision from that on a daily basis and the fact that I was a complete introvert with no friends for such a long time, the only solace I had was in school. It was the only thing I was good at for such a long time and it nearly killed me when I got into my first university classes where I couldn’t pull that “A”. It was like the one thing that had kept me going for so long was suddenly taken away. I tried to go to a university for film and animation/visual effects, but could honestly say that I failed miserably at it. It wasn’t for lack of trying or not getting the concepts or just flat not being good at it so much as it was that I felt like I was learning much more on my own and in a more effective way than what I was  learning through the school.I spent the next few years just drifting aimlessly without really knowing what I wanted to do or where to go from there. I had this idea so engrained in me as a kid that if I got out of the town I had grown up in and those people, I could be happy. I did that for a while and was still miserable because I didn’t have any experience or a degree beyond an AA in Liberal Arts (the one degree that covered the most basics at the school I went to before transferring.) Like you, I found someone not too long ago that had such a huge passion for his work. Although our interests differ quite a bit, just finally seeing someone that did not feel defeated, stuck or wandering without direction was inspirational. I cannot tell you how many people I know my age that have become so emotionally beaten down in this town and almost unable to function due to severe depression or simply have no motivation to do anything more than live with their parents for the rest of their lives. That sense of passion fueled my own to finish my education. Now, this is my last shot at going back to school. I have given up on the idea of doing any kind of art for a living, though that is something I will always do on the side as much as time permits. I’m actually doing a complete switch and going for Computer Science as well. Your post really gives me some hope that this may be a much needed change in direction. Thank you again.