It’s funny what things can drag you back into the past. I hear Bad Moon Rising and I’m back in high school in a happy way, but today I clicked on a video (of a PE coach trying to force a female student into the swimming pool) and it sent me back to the dark times of high school when it sometimes felt like I was the meat on that grill.
In my day, students formed into groups based on how good they were at sports or if they could sing or play an instrument. Academic ability also helped in the olden days. It helped to be good at something. I was good at two things:
- Blending into the woodwork
- Reading books
While reading has been a great comfort and put me on the path to being a writer, it wasn’t a path to popularity in high school. And then I turned thirteen and temporarily lost my ability to hide. I wonder what it is about heading into puberty that makes you visible in odd and awkward ways? It wasn’t just about bodily changes because I mostly just got a bit taller. And even less coordinated. In fact, my one physical skill was the ability to read and walk.
This lack of coordination hit right when the school ramped up PE to a credit course, rather than a break for the teacher. It was a required misery from 7th thru 12th grade.
I hated it every day.
Thinking about it still sends a chill down my back.
And watching that video brought back all the misery of being forced to do something “for my own good” that rarely felt good. I realize that PE teachers become PE teachers because they loved PE, but there must have been something else they weren’t good at? So they could understand that not everyone was good at everything? It just never felt like they got that. That they believed if I’d just try a little harder, I’d do better.
Now there were other things in high school that I wasn’t good at but the thing with PE, you were not good at it in front of everyone. All the time. I had the odd moment of sucking in chemistry and biology, but those classes, if you followed directions you could usually get through an experiment with a low level of embarrassment. And you and your grades were mostly between you, your report card and your parents.
Not so with PE.
It was painful from opening bell to closing bell. My resistance to PE was mostly of the mute, sullen variety. And I’m sure it must have been massively frustrating to my various teachers. But seriously, we were teenagers. Mute and sullen was pretty much our go-to place for at least part of those years. We didn’t know who we were, what we were becoming, and it scared the crap out of us but we’d rather do lame and stupid things rather than let that fear show.
I remember the day one of my PE teachers went out of her way to embarrass me in front of the class. I knew she was wrong, out of order, all of it. Did it destroy me?
No way. I was tougher than that (which was good to know, btw). I’d like to think it eventually made me a better person. I’ve been in the teaching role and I’m always aware there is a certain amount of power that come with that role that should be wielded with care. Sometimes I wonder if I’d like exercising type things more if my teachers had been less hearty and more compassionate. Probably not. My best skill is still reading.
Looking back, I think the real damage that was done (and mostly by me from learning the wrong lesson from the experience) was inside my head. For a long time, I just assumed hearty, athletic people wouldn’t like me. I think I probably missed out on some good friends until I rewired my expectations. This didn’t happen because I was so smart, but because some really cool people wouldn’t let me not be friends with them.
Of course it’s pretty typical for teens to seek comfort and acceptance from those like them, but in high school and then beyond, my life has been blessed by friends who wouldn’t let me hide. Who insisted on being my friend when I was sure they wouldn’t.
I do sometimes wonder how many friends I missed because of my low expectations of myself? And I wonder if I wouldn’t have gained a better appreciation for athletic type things if school programs weren’t so one-size-fits-all? I’ve since played (briefly) on a women’s softball team and also (even more briefly) on a woman’s basketball team. I didn’t completely suck (though I still dribble like a lame girl) and enjoyed it. And I enjoyed it when I stopped and I could go read a book. LOL
So, do you ever feel blasts from the past? Have a sense of missed opportunities or gratitude to people who helped you NOT miss them? Learned the wrong lesson and had to rewire yourself? Do share, please or you’ll hurl me in the past again. And I love comments so much, I enter them into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). I announce the winner the first blog post of the new month. 🙂
And in keeping with the inadvertent learning, I sort of accidentally got this book set to free, but it probably won’t last (see, I also learned to never say never!). So grab it now while it’s free. Or, if you have it and liked it tell someone. 🙂
It’s free everywhere but Nook (which won’t let you set to books to free.)