Wednesday, April 5, 2017

D is for “Desperation, Depression, Decisions”

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except Sundays), I’ll be sharing a short bookish memory with you.

In high school, I wasn’t the greatest student. I had a terrible attitude and did the minimum amount of work I needed to graduate. When I met with my guidance counselor to talk about my future, I said I wanted to be a crazy dog lady, live in the woods, and never see another person again. I didn’t want to go to college. I didn’t want a job. I didn’t want a husband or kids. If we’re being honest, I didn’t want to be alive. My teenage years were very dark, very angsty, and very strange. In one of Stephen King's books, he uses the phrase "going out of the blue and into the black." Yeah. Teenage-me was deep in the black and had no intention of trying to get out of it.

One of the few things I enjoyed about my senior year of high school was my creative writing class. Instead of taking a final exam, we had to revise the stories we wrote for class and create a portfolio of our writing. I worked abnormally hard on my portfolio. Seriously, it had been years since I’d put that much effort into anything, especially a school assignment. Teenage-me was much too angry and cynical for school. I turned in my portfolio and hoped for a good grade.

The teacher gave our portfolios back during the last week of high school. Creative writing was my final class of the day, so I walked halfway home with my portfolio, then sat under a tree and flipped through it.

My writing teacher had been supportive of my work all semester, but I was surprised by her comments on my assignment. She said a lot of nice things and thought I had a talent for writing. She didn't want me to give up on it.

I had never thought of myself as talented at anything, but I started to wonder if she was right. I loved books, and I loved writing, and I really loved writing about books. My portfolio was proof that I could work hard on something and not fail. If one person in the world thought I was talented, maybe others would, too.

A few weeks after I graduated from high school, I signed up for literature classes at a community college. It was a brilliant decision. I loved college so much that I went for 11 years and ended up with three degrees. All of them are related to writing or literature.

And, I still have my portfolio with my high school teacher’s comments.








If you went to college, how did you choose what to study? Did you have a teacher who influenced your choice?






23 comments:

  1. This is such a touching story! I'm so glad you had a teacher who encouraged you like that, and that you found something you love. I had great history teachers in high school who inspired me to study history in college. Although I initially thought about becoming a teacher, I ended up not going that route, but I worked as a historian for a number of years.

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    1. Historian seems like an awesome job. I also liked history in school and took a lot of history classes.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. When I left school I didn't know what I wanted to do for a job, didn't want the married with kids thing or a relationship of any kind. I still don't! My depression didn't hit until 2002 after a series of stressful jobs. I'd LOVE to live in a quiet rural house that nobody knows exists, get everything delivered and barely have to even look at other people! At primary school one of my teachers was very supportive of my creative writing but I never really followed it through. What wonderful words from your teacher!

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    1. We have a lot in common! I’m ambivalent about the whole “husband and kids” thing. However, the crazy dog lady thing is still really appealing. A quiet house in the woods where I could just sit and read might be the best thing ever.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. My daughter is currently suffering from depression and is a high school senior. I know things will get better, so hearing you say as much really helps. Thank you for sharing this.

    Also, A+ work by your teacher. I'm so glad you saved her comments.

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    1. I hope your daughter feels better soon! Depression is hard to deal with, but for me, it got less severe as I got older.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. Thank you for your story on the power of encouragement.

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  5. How wonderful! the first teacher to encourage my writing was my 7th grade English teacher. We would journal once a week - which I hated at the time - until I discovered creative ways to incorporate all those angsty teenage things into my writing. Years later I took journalism classes and had big plans of working in advertising or on SNL! lol! then I got engaged and all those dreams went out the window when I 'settled' for a more stable nursing career. It wasn't until about 10 years ago that I returned to writing. I am so glad that I did and wonder why I ever strayed.

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    1. Good luck with your writing! I also wrote a lot as a teenager because it gave the angst somewhere to go. Writing is a great creative outlet.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. One word of encouragement and how things turn around, love your teacher for what she did..Kudos to you to bring it up today and let us feel that each of us have a talent !

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    1. Thanks! Encouragement is powerful. People need to spend more time encouraging each other and less time tearing each other down.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. What a wonderful story of encouragement. I probably never would have gotten into writing if a kind teacher hadn't gotten me first hooked on reading in 7th grade. Making my own stories seemed the next logical step, and it kept me sane through some tumultuous family problems in high school.

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    1. Same here. I wrote a lot in middle/high school. It was a much-needed distraction from the real world.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  8. I love this story--well, not that you were seriously depressed and miserable in school, but the part where your teacher's encouragement allowed you to see other possibilities within yourself.

    I think you're going to get a lot of takers on the "crazy dog lady in the woods" plan even from those of us who already have made choices that preclude that. Most bloggers have a hermit streak, I suspect. I think the single hardest part about being a parent is never getting any alone time (other than when I'm too exhausted to enjoy it). I think the trick is to make sure your kids are introverts too, but that didn't work out for me.

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    1. The crazy dog lady thing still seems like a good idea to me. I don’t know if I could deal with extroverted children. I’d be like, “Mommy loves you, but she’s going to lock herself in the bathroom for the rest of the day. Please be quiet.”

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. Holy crap, AJ, I am going to cry, this is such an awesome story! I... do not have one like it, I think I have its opposite? I loved high school so much. (I know, not normal, right?) I was on the swim team, and I was pretty good (and worked SO hard at it) and then school just kind of came easy to me, it was like... the gateway to swim practice haha. Anyway, I never wanted to leave. I liked my town, I liked my school, I liked my friends, coaches, teammates, the silly boy I had a huge crush on, my family... But my parents insisted that I go away to college. They said I had to be at least 2 hours away. Originally, I thought I wanted to do something involving swimming, but the school I ended up choosing (because it was like, 2 hours on the nose, and a couple friends from HS were going there- note to kids reading this, this is NOT a good way to make a college decision) didn't have anything like that. (It was also an AWFUL experience, but that is a topic for another day hah)

    I ended up majoring in Spanish because I had gotten As easily in HS, and my dad saw some article saying it was an "up and coming career". But then I realized I hated it. So I had NO major for awhile and literally just took classes that were fun for me. I found that I gravitated toward history classes, women's studies, psychology, etc. But then I had to pick a major. A few people on my swim team were majoring in sports management, so I went to talk to the department to see if I could do anything with swimming in that major. They said SURE! I switched. I hated EVERY MINUTE, because SPOILER ALERT- it was just a business degree with like, two sports-related classes.

    I graduated, eventually, just to have the damn degree. I went back to the same job I had when I was 15, lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

    I am really happy that you have found something that you love, something you are good at, and something that fulfills you. The world needs a LOT more teachers like that one, for sure. And you know, thanks for letting your comments section be my therapy for the day ♥

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    1. I’ve heard other people say they felt lost in college. I lived at home during college, so that made it easier. I knew I was passionate about literature before I started, so I liked most of my college classes. None of my high school friends went to the same colleges as me. That was good because some of them were toxic people who I didn’t need in my life. I’m glad my blog could be therapy for you!

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  10. What a wonderful story!! I am so happy you found something you loved and had a supportive teacher. I kind of just did something I was kind of good at and knew I could get a job with. So pretty much it wasn't something I loved at all and that is sad. Good for you :)

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    1. I often think I should have done something that would make the whole “get a good job” thing easier, but I don’t regret my degrees. I think they made me a better person.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  11. What an awesome story! The world needs more teachers like that one. I am so glad that her words encouraged you to pursue college.

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  12. Awww what a great teacher! I love this story. I went to college for music and had a wonderfully supportive flute professor. We are now colleagues and dear friends. :)

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  13. I am glad that creative writing could be something for you which you could love and enjoy as much as you did. And it sounds like you were/are great at it as well. :D

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