High School

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Academia-Schmacademia

Thursday, 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.