I have always been an exceptionally smart person. Normally an A or B student, usually on the honor roll, and frequently testing for more advance classes. One could safely assume that a bright academic future was in store for me.
I made it through elementary school with what seemed like few problems. If there were ever issues they were never big enough to affect my schooling. I had a social life, friends who looked forward to seeing me, and teachers who actually enjoyed my company.
The onset of junior high was different. I’m not sure why but many things seemed to just change overnight. I personally noticed that I was suddenly too big for my britches. Frequently causing disturbances in class, I spent much of my time in detention. I also remember many days of skipping school all together.
I’m not sure why I behaved the way I did. I was not popular and wasn’t doing the things that I was doing to look cool. In fact, the only reason anybody knew who I was was because I was such a troublemaker.
I recall the only worthwhile thing about seventh grade was being a part of the yearbook staff. Being creative is something that always makes me feel good. I loved having a camera or a pencil and paper in my hand. I was also a part of a team. I felt like I had a purpose. When the school year ended I was even appointed editor for the following year. I thought it could only be a sign of great things to come.
Eighth grade got off to a good start. I had a few close friends and was relishing my time working on the yearbook. I am extremely proud to say that the year that I was editor is the only time in my school’s history where the yearbook took on a unique look. Among many things it was not their traditional red and white. The theme of the book was “We don’t fit the mold, we break it”. I explained to everyone that it is okay to break from tradition and be different. As a result we had a wonderfully different pale gray and navy blue yearbook.
Months passed with nothing horrible occurring. Since I was prone to trouble making I’m sure there was a detention or two in there, but overall there were no big issues for me. I met a young fellow named Ryan and he became my first “boyfriend”. We would talk on the phone and pass notes back and forth in English class. Things seemed so serious. All that talk of locker placement, math partners, the Smashing Pumpkins, and meeting at the mall…it all sounded so deep at the time.
January is when big problems began. I had told Ryan that I didn’t want him to be my boyfriend anymore and that didn’t sit well with him. Some men just can’t handle rejection.
Not long after, I began hearing people saying things about me behind my back in my English class. Ryan had been telling people about all of the sexually perverse things that I had in reality never done with him. I said something to my English teacher about this on numerous occasions and she paid it no attention. Her response was that it was all in my mind. What do you know, another adult that didn’t believe me. If she had believed me or even just listened to me, what happened next might have been prevented.
I walked into English class one day and saw Ryan standing there, he looked up at me and grinned. I sat down and said nothing. At the end of class I turned around and quietly said “Ryan, if you don’t keep your damn mouth shut I’m gonna kick your ass”. I suppose he thought it was just an empty threat, as the next day I walked into the classroom to Ryan standing in front of everyone saying things like “Liz likes to touch guy’s dicks” and “Liz feels me up and down all the time”. Just as anyone would be, I was furious when I heard this. Combine that with the embarrassment that I felt, I became irate.
As I had somewhat of a temper at the time I immediately grabbed him by his shirt and shoved him up against the wall. I screamed “I told you to shut the hell up or I was gonna kick your ass”. I threw him down on the ground and punched him over and over again. At one point he managed to get out from under me and run into another classroom, I caught up with him and continued beating him some more. Another boy ran over to try and stop me and attempted to grab my arm but I turned around and with one swift punch I took him out.
When all was said and done Ryan ended up with a bloody lip and eyebrow and I’m sure many bruises. He was also lucky enough to have bestowed upon him the reputation of being beaten up by a girl.
That was the last day that I remember attending that school. It wasn’t until after the fact that I realized this incident occurred on Valentine’s Day. Getting kicked out of school for beating up an ex-boyfriend on Valentine’s Day…sounds like something out of a movie.
Spending the rest of that semester home-schooled only brought more stress in my house which meant more family problems.
Once again I thought things were beginning to up for me however when upon realizing that I couldn’t return to my junior high/high school, my parent decided to put my creative abilities to use and applied for me to attend the Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School.
Going there for my interview, I remember thinking what an amazing place it was. We went on a tour of the entire school and I had never seen a place like it. This was school? We visited the photography department and I was simply taken aback. I walked into the darkroom and was speechless. I had never been in or actually ever seen an actual darkroom before but knew that was where I wanted to spend my time.
I desired so terribly to go there. It would be so nice to get a fresh start away from all of the old teachers, acquaintances, rumors, and bad memories. It would also be something that would keep my interest and look good on the college applications to the art schools that I knew I would go to someday.
A few weeks later I received an acceptance letter in the mail. It arrived with a class schedule and a bus assignment. Was this going to be the fresh start that I was hoping for and needing? I was so sure that it was, but once again I was wrong.
I ended up spending the entire summer in Hawthorn Hospital, the most draconian juvenile nut-hut there is. While imprisoned, I was given a diagnosis of having a “behavior disorder”. As a result, my high school experience would be even more shoddy than my junior high school experience.
I am an incredibly smart, extremely advanced person whose mental capacities are highly above average. Yet, I spent high school in a classroom with children who did not even know the alphabet. I will not deny that I had behavior issues but is that a reason to treat me like I didn’t know that one plus one equals two?
My tendency to “act out” got worse as my freshman and sophomore years went on, but I don’t know what else the teachers were expecting. I was stuck in a classroom with a group of stupid kids, being given work that a first grader could do. I was never being challenged or allowed to work up to anywhere near my full potential. How fair was that to me?
I was on medication at the time that made me very drowsy and some days it was almost impossible to stay awake. Combine that with how bored I was and I was frequently falling asleep. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I would explain to my teacher that it was my medication making me sleepy but according to her I was just lazy and didn’t care about anything. Detention was given every time someone fell asleep in class so needless to say I spent a lot of time in detention.
I have many recollections of getting very angry at my teachers for not listening to me when I would try to tell them about my work being too easy and my needs not being met. On many occasions I would get so tired of trying to explain things that “Fuck You” would end up coming out of my mouth due to pure frustration. I’d turn and walk out of the room to more detentions and even suspensions.
I endured two and a half years of this. At the end of my junior year I finally just said “Screw This”. I realized that I had had enough and was gaining nothing by being put through all of that misery every single day. It definitely would have been nice to have my high school diploma but I wasn’t going to subject myself to that daily agony for another nine months. In the end I earned my GED around the exact same time that I would have received my diploma.
A few years later I entered an art school just like my sights had been set on so many years before. I even got a chance to utilize a darkroom like the one that had impressed me so greatly when I was younger. I earned my Bachelors Degree in Photography and now have a beautifully framed diploma hanging on my wall.