Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The View Has Changed

changeI was not very popular when I was in school. No, let me put that in a different way. I was the least popular kid in school, at any grade, on any level. I was the nerd. Here is how I know I was a nerd:

1. No one picked me to be on their “team.” (Whatever sport it was because I could not catch a ball!)

2. I had thick “coca-cola” glasses that I wore.

3. Because I had “flat feet,” I had to buy special shoes with arch supports (they didn’t have them in all shoes like they do now). This means I had to go to a special store and all of their shoes had to be the ugliest, most out of style shoes that you had ever seen in your life.

4. While other girls were cheerleaders or popular athletes, I was on the math team and called a “mathlete.”

5. I wasn’t allowed to date. (My parents were strict Chinese from the “old school.”)

6. I made straight As because I had nothing else to do but study.

7. I had a few friends but they were as not popular as I was.

8. I joined the Drama club and helped out backstage by building the sets, painting, prop hunting, and then basic dogsbody on performance days. This helped me be near the major actors and actresses who could sing, dance, act like famous people.

9. I didn’t smoke -cigarettes or marijuana. I never experimented with drugs so other kids called me a “goody two shoes.”

10. I was different than others since I was the only Chinese kid around.

Now that I look back at the popularity or unpopularity of my teenage years, I’m kind of glad I had that life. If I could go back and talk to myself, here is how I would explain it:

1. It is okay not to be athletic. I can support the team by being there to cheer them on. Not everyone is athletic and when I get a job, no one will care if I was on someone’s team or not (unless I go into professional sports, which just isn’t going to happen.)

2. Eventually I could afford contact lenses or even lasix surgery. (When I had the surgery, I thought it was the best thing to ever happen to me other than marrying my husband!)

3. Now, I can buy the shoes I like. Arch supports are in most shoes. No one talks about “flat feet” anymore.

4. I should have been proud to be a mathlete. I wish more students were proud of this.

5. Dating is what it is. It is a way to meet others and see what you like and don’t like. This helps you choose a future mate. Unfortunately my parents were overprotective and there wasn’t anything I could do to change that.

6. Straight A’s helped me when I went to college. Those AP courses helped me save a lot of money! Now I’m pretty proud that I made them and that I knew how to study.

7. It is the quality of my friends that count and not the quantity. I would rather have a few close friends that a ton of acquaintances.

8. I enjoyed the Drama club. Not everyone has to be the lead in the play and it takes a lot of people to have a successful production. I believe my efforts helped do this.

9. I was concerned about my health even when I was young. That is nothing to be ashamed about and I never gave in to peer pressure about this. I’m very proud of this fact.

10. I would embrace my individuality and my uniqueness. I wish I paid attention more to my parents and relatives about my heritage.

I also look back at the many kids I thought were so popular and had it all. Many of them are now unhappy with their lives or dead due to poor choices they made. I’m not saying that all popular kids come to a tragic end of course. But I look back at these kids and try to see why I thought they were so popular. Many of them chose to do illegal things and got away with them (maybe in my immature mind, I thought they were brave). Others pursued their dreams but gave up their values. Some made poor choices about their health which have impacted their adulthood. Now I look back at them and think, “why did I ever think they were popular and why did I want to be like them?”

Isn’t it funny how our views change when we grow up? I wish there were ways we could get today’s students to understand this. How have your views change from your school days to now? Please share.

Found on flicImage: 'Snowy October morning in Millstone'
Found on flickrcc.netkrcc.net


diane said...

I see a lot of myself in your list, Pat. You have survived and thrived!

Sharon Elin said...

I can relate to this, and I wish I had had someone to encourage me to accept myself as I was instead of wishing to be like the popular kids.

I think we need to teach young people to stop comparing themselves to others and to embrace individuality and diversity. The "nerds" and the popular kids both need to learn this.

I think the popular kids need to be targeted for lessons in tolerance more than nerds need to be taught self-acceptance. Popular kids should be taught to accept others who are different than they are. Too often, they are quick to reject and insult those who are not in their "inner circle", perpetuating the myth that there is a hierarchy of worthiness. I wish they would learn that everyone is equally worthy, and that being popular is a tenuous and temporary advantage.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Pat--I wore ugly shoes because even in elementary school, I wore a size 9 (now it's 11), so all the shoes looked like old lady shoes. (This was in the late 60's. Shoes were not as "stylish" and chic as they are now.)

I too was a behind-the-scenes person, yet I became a Thespian. I'd strip the clothes off the actors once they stepped behind the curtain and yank on their next costume during costume changes.

Your post reminds us all that despite any "obstacles," we still can survive...and thrive.