(I don’t know what made me think of writing about this today, but it popped in my head as I was reviewing my life, as I often do.)
…but when I was a tween around 13 or so, I was casually diagnosed by a teacher as a possible future killer (ready to snap) or at risk for suicide.
You’re reading this thinking: Are you effing kidding me?
..and if you have met me in real life, you might be even more shocked and in disbelief that someone thought that.
Even I am reading that thinking: Wow.. that’s kind of unbelievable.
I’m telling you this because sometimes we can make snap judgments (our human nature is to quickly size someone up in 15 seconds – 10 minutes), and although that teacher had good intentions it has made an everlasting impression on me in the realization that I came off even more awkward than I had imagined.
Snap judgements can sometimes save lives, but we have to be careful that we get the whole picture first.
Of course, NO ONE told me this at the time.
I found out only because my academic rivals in class told me at the end of our school year that our homeroom teacher told them to “look out for me” and for signs of a breakdown on the rise.
Ironically, that teacher was the one who mentally snapped at the end, having to take a sabbatical from the stress of teaching…. and she thought I was the crazy one!
I was obviously shocked and surprised, even a little ashamed that someone could even think that.
When I asked what her reasons were, they told me that she thought it was just REALLY strange that I was always so quiet in class, I preferred to read.
She found it uncomfortable that I was alone a lot of the time in class even when we had ‘free time’ to socialize, even though the girls in my class were nasty pieces of work back then.
Finally, she thought it was the oddest thing that I only hung out with two guys in the class — those two guys who were my academic rivals, and that I had no clear girl friends in the class.
These poor guys tried to tell her that I was just…. different.
I wasn’t like the other girls in the class who were obsessed with pop stars, celebrities, boys, makeup, drinking before I was legal, sex, and what have you.
I had other interests which included reading, and I wasn’t interested in socializing with girls in the class who were bullies anyway.
Think: Mean Girls, and you pretty much have the toxic, nasty environment I was facing each day in school.
What she failed to take into account in all of this was the following:
- I was bullied pretty much all throughout elementary (pick any reason for this)
- I’m partly an introvert, believe it or not which was made worse by bullying
- I’m a bit shy; even now, speaking to others I don’t know secretly terrifies me
- I’m also a bit self-conscious due to having been bullied
- I didn’t think like, or enjoy the same things as other kids, which makes fitting in hard
- My friends were all in the other class together (we had split classes)
- I was an overachiever (still kinda am)
- I really liked to think, which requires silence
Without even pulling me aside to gently ask me if I was happy in her class, she made a snap judgement and proclaimed me to be a possible future serial killer or at risk for suicide.
Then she told 2 people who seemed to be the closet thing to a friend I had in class, and proceeded to make them wary of me.
They tiptoed around me on eggshells the rest of the year, but I thought they were doing that because I was beating them in subjects and they didn’t want to give me an edge.
I mean.. REALLY?
I told my mother when I found out, but by that time I was just amused at the whole thing, as was she.
My mother looked at me, wrinkled her forehead and indignantly said: YOU? A POSSIBLE KILLER? AND SUICIDAL?
She couldn’t believe it because I couldn’t even stand to watch her kill a live chicken, and I was always trying to make friends with the animals outdoors by coaxing squirrels towards me with nuts.
(I was really into fantasy fiction like Eddings at the time, with a bit of a Snow White complex going on.)
This Japanese flying squirrel would have been particularly adorable to make friends with.
Later, when I went on to high school, yet ANOTHER teacher mis-interpreted my personality (partly introverted, shy, self-conscious) as being at risk for taking drugs and possibly suiciding.
This time, she told my mother directly instead of telling me, and warned my mother to take me into a therapist and possibly put me on drugs for the obvious depression I was going through.
I was just quiet. QUIET. Not depressed.
There’s a difference!!!!
There was something about me, a quiet, shy vibe, that made people uncomfortable and maybe, still makes people uncomfortable (Who knows? No one tells me these things).
What I did learn from that experience as a kid that that no one likes a bookworm who is shy, careful, quiet, likes to draw rainbow-coloured designs and think.
Apparently, that made me somebody who could snap at any time.
To be a “normal” kid, you had to be loud obnoxious, careless, lazy, in-your-face and to be too cool for school. Less thinking, more action.
Introverts are misunderstood, and I hope that if you are one, you don’t feel alone in this regard, because you aren’t.
I mean, if my teachers’ assessments were anything to go by, I should be dead or in jail by now.
Luckily.. I am in neither position.
Anyway, just a story I thought would be interesting to share. I’m sure other people have similar types of stories, although I’m sure none of you were diagnosed as being suicidal for being quiet.