Sunshine is rarely seen in a lot of the classrooms that I took my tests in. It was usually a smaller room, some number of doors down from the rest of the class, with white walls, comfy rolling chairs, and a fridge. It was a teacher’s lounge or break room. Having no other good place to put kids who need to be separated from the rest, this room was utilized, and I spent a decent portion of my class time in the windowless room.
The lack of windows was by no means depressing, as even with windows all the classrooms are more or less equally drab. What impacts me the most is the alienation I felt. It was a silent feeling, I never mentioned my dislike of it. I had the problem of only expressing 1% of my grievances, typical of a quiet kid. It was deep in my though. It affected me very much, cause kids are porous like a frog in that way, any subtle toxicity around them can poison their body. How am I too think of myself, if the entire test-taking experience is away from my peers?
I have to be their because I get distracted, because I take more time than the rest, because the classroom makes me anxious. In truth, I think I was just as anxious as the rest, and maybe even less distracted at times. But, early in my academic life, I was determined to need extra help. Not that much, I was not differently abled or anything, I just needed a little extra time. I never had a person sit me down and tell me that.
When you are just a little bit below average, when you perform (at times) just a tad slower than normal, the school cannot send you to a room only for the slightly slower kids. If they separate you, you go with the kids who have down syndrome, who are in a motorized wheel chair, who cannot help but scream from time to time. Special education is a necessity, but my special education only helped convince me that my mind operated in such a ‘below average’ level that I was equivalent to a kid who was born with the inability to control their volume, or with the reading comprehension of a toddler.
From the 4th grade onto the very end of high school, I experienced classes different from everyone else. I was not the only one, but when you are in school, where social pressures are peaking, you don’t always think about how other people have it. I conceived a reality that I still have a tough time breaking through. Everyone in my age group, all above, and even some below, where more capable than me. Even if I got better grades than someone else in my class, I had my extra help to point to for success. Every time I did worse than them, I would only point to me and find myself incompetent. When you think like that, that everyone has more competence than you, you don’t give yourself agency. I have formed a bad habit of being easily swayed and pushed around, to change my actions based on others commands, and to be submissive towards people who I really shouldn’t be at all.
I see authority in everyone to some level. Even today, knowing more of myself and the causes that made me who I am, I have trouble thinking of myself as equal to anyone. I always feel lesser. I have a stunted sense of independence. My overall self-esteem is crippled. I still fight feelings like that today.
What is more, I had a inactive life outside of school. My time was consumed by entertainment, video games, television, movies, and later pornography. I didn’t grow as a person at all, I felt no direction. Instead, what structure did exist in my life was created entirely by others. The most solid structure, and the most visible and consistent, was the school. My life was aimed by a curriculum. My path was set by my teachers. It was rare that I felt any kind of preparedness for life after school. I did not know well a way of comfortably living outside of that sort of structure. Even worse, it has all been done out of love and good intentions. I find myself a nervous wreck, and what has this help gotten me? But I cannot point a finger at it, at my loving teachers and considerate parents, as there is not a drop of venom in their actions.
I am still in school. I still have (now optional) extra help. I still struggle with structuring my life outside of school. I still have low self-esteem. It is getting better though. I am thankful, extremely so, for the path I have been set on. It isn’t perfect, but it made me who I am, even though I have trouble enjoying who I am.