Jan 13, 2012

I Believed in Me

I am linking with Ashley over at The Shine Project for another weekly challenge.  This week Ashley challenged us to step out in courage.  I thought that was a great topic, when I first read the challenge I was really excited and I couldn't wait to sit down and write about a time when I had courage.  It didn't turn out to be that easy, I can't even begin to tell you how many times I sat in front of a blank screen thinking courage, courage, courage when have I had courage?  I couldn't come up with much, I asked my hubby and called my mom and they both helped with some ideas but it was only when I put all the ideas down on paper that I could see how much courage I'd had over the years.  Some where huge leaps of courage and others were small but I was shocked at how often I stepped out in courage.  Here you have it, a few moments when I stepped out in courage.  

Lets go back a couple years (ok, about 12 years, I can't believe it's been that long) I was 13 years old, going into my first year of high school.  I was so excited to go to high school, I remember the thought of high school being so cool.  I thought it would be a great time, where I'd meet new people, make new friends, learn new things, and be encouraged to be the best I could be, I thought I was one step closer to pursuing my dream to become a social worker.  Boy was I wrong!  
Sept 1998 first day of high school (AH what was I wearing lol) 
The first year of high school was hard enough as it was but I was shocked when I was discouraged, belittled and put down....you may think that these things were a result of other students....Oh no!  I'm talking about a teacher, one specific teacher had it out for me and she made it known.  

I remember her telling me that I would amount to nothing in life, she told me she'd be shocked if I graduated high school and if I had any hope of graduating I should consider going in the general stream as oppose to the advance stream which I was in (general stream was designed for career/collage focus students and advance stream was for students wanting to get to university... you needed advance courses in order to even apply for university).  Can you believe it?  I sure couldn't.  

I let it go at first but then this teacher said similar comments to my parents during parent teacher interviews.  I am impressed that my parents didn't put her in her place right then, but they didn't know at that point that she had been telling me these things on a regular basis, they thought she was speaking from a place of concern.  Little did they know I was being fed this negativity on a regular basis.  

The teacher kept bringing me down, but one day she did it in front of the whole class, I was so embarrassed.  For a moment I imagined I was a turtle and just hid in my shell but then something came over me.... I wasn't going to allow her to put me down any longer.  I remember standing up a few moments after she'd embarrassed me, she had already moved back to teaching the lesson as if nothing had happened,  I stood up and said something like "You may think I will amount to nothing, but I know I am better then you think I am, I can do anything I put my mind to, I'll show you!"  Probably not the best move on my part, it landed me in detention but in the moment I stood up in courage and told her that she couldn't bring me down.  

I don't think she realized how much her words hurt regardless, sadly I still struggle with the emotional scars she left on my soul and confidence, but I am also thankful and feel blessed to have lived through this experience.  You might think I am crazy but to be honest she helped prepare me for life, for the people I'd meet who couldn't not see my potential (don't mean to toot my own horn but you get what I'm saying right?), sadly these people are all around us.
June 2002 Prom!
Not only did I have a teacher beating me down, I was really struggling when it came to tests and exams.  My marks normally would be above 75 but when I had to write a test or exams I'd be lucky to pass.  I couldn't figure it out I knew the information, I could answer the questions orally it just didn't make sense to me.  Thankfully my parents were a great support and advocated for me.  They did some research and spoke with the guidance counsellor at the school who suggested I get an assessment.  I had an assessment and I was diagnosed with a learning disability.  It was at that point my parents sat down with me to have a serious discussion about what I wanted to do and if I still wanted to continue to pursue a career as a social worker.  I wasn't going to give up my dream because of a silly disability.  I told my parents I didn't care that I had a disability it didn't define who I was and I sure wasn't going to let it stop me from reaching my goals.  It was at that point I stepped out in courage again... I knew it was going to be a challenge, I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work but I was going to continue to work toward my dream.    

So I hit a couple of road blocks and then the government decided they were going to make some changes to the education system in our Province.  For years school went from grade 1 to grade 13 (also known OAC, I'm not sure what that stands for), but in 1999 the government decided that they were going to eliminate grade 13 (which was an option but required for university). This change meant that high school would only be 4 year and all students would graduate from grade 12.  The government implemented a new curriculum and said that the group of students entering into high school the year after I started would start this new curriculum.  
August 2002 - moving into residence at Ryerson University
What did that mean for me?  Well it meant I would be the last year to have grade 13 but it also meant that the year I was supposed to graduate there would be two graduating classes and double the amount of students applying for university.  I didn't want that stress of competing with double the applicants, I had good marks but with double the students and the universities making no changes to the number of applicants they'd accept I knew I needed to do something but I didn't know what.  I felt really discouraged, I had a teacher who kept telling me I was going to be nothing, I had a disability that caused me to have to work way harder then others to get the same marks and now I had extra competition to get into university.  I started grade 10 and then it hit me, I told my parents and my guidance counsellor that I wanted to graduate a year early so I can get into university before the double cohort.  Although they had their concerns they told me it was possible and they'd support my decision.   I quickly got to planning to ensure I had all the appropriate credits to get into the programs I wanted and I went full force ahead to achieve my goal.  I actually can't believe how much courage I had to make such a profound decision to fast track through high school at such a young age.  Thankfully I knew what I wanted to do when I graduated... that helped and made the decision a little easier. 
I am so proud I stepped out in courage in all these situations because I graduated high school in 4 years, despite the negative, discouraging teacher I had a few teachers in my cheering section, and got accepted into all the universities I had applied to, to study social work.  It was such an achievement and very empowering.
Taking some time to think about this and reflect back on my life experiences this far I've realized there have been a number of times when I've stepped out in courage and you know what? I am so grateful for those moment because they make me who I am today!  


  1. Wow you've really struggled at times. That's so great for you, not letting your learning disability get in your way.
    And that teacher? How is she even allowed to teach? I mean, who says stuff like that to a teenager? I think detention would be well worth standing up to her, and I think you did it a lot more lady-like than I would have.

  2. Wow! This is an amazing story Christina! Holy crap....so much courage to stand up to a teacher in high school, but who cares if you got detention because of it - it was the right thing to do! That teacher should not be a teacher. I can't believe how mean and evil she/he sounds. Amazing too how you set a goal to graduate a year early (we're the same age! Yeah 1984....I did my OAC year though) and did everything you set out to do. You CAN do whatever you put your mind to. You are an inspiration lovely! xo

  3. That's so awesome. I love that you shared this. You are definitely an inspiration.

  4. Good for you! Teachers like that are a stain on the profession, unfortunately they're in a position to do so much damage. You are strong indeed.

  5. That was a great inspiring blog! Your teacher made it so difficult for you, but you had the courage to face everything. Thanks for sharing.

  6. it's too bad that bitter people are allowed to be such an integral part of shaping a child's life. wow. isn't it crazy how stuff like that can last in your heart so long, even after you know the truth in your head? thank you for sharing this!


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