Junior high and high school is a challenge for every teen. Taking a dragon to school with you only makes it more so.
This is a big deal for all young teens. Finding their place in the dangerous tide pool of hormones, cliques, and weirdness.
I personally didn’t care what others thought of me. Most of the time. I dressed in what I liked. I took the classes that I wanted, even if they were considered weird. I developed friends across the social classes: orchestra, drama, sports, nerds, misfits, etc. I really didn’t care about labels. Just people.
This made me stand out in uncomfortable ways. I was occasionally ridiculed for my non-conformance. I was also, occasionally, a bully. Unfortunately, bullying came natural to me. Especially when I was the one being teased. Bip gets really annoyed by people acting stupidly. Luckily, my parents were very strict about discipline. Personal and otherwise. So, my bullying activities were cut short.
Bip really made it hard for me to feel like I fit in. Being depressed all the time makes it hard to care about anything. It can also make you angry. This is when I made a momentous decision that changed my life forever.
I would not allow what ever was broken in my brain deprive me of the life I wanted for myself.
Boredom Be Gone!
After the seventh grade I was never bored in school again. I started in the advanced seventh grade classes because of my high test scores in grade school. I made sure that I stayed in the advanced classes. I worked hard and expected nothing but the best from myself.
I was one of those weird kids who really enjoyed school and especially the more difficult advanced classes. I loved the challenge. I enjoyed the work (most of the time). Yes, I did complain about homework. It is required of teenagers and, I didn’t want my friends to think I was a total Brainiac.
“C” Means Commitment
I can only remember one “C” in my entire school career. I was in the seventh grade. It was a timeline assignment in my world history class. I just dawdled over it because it seemed so easy. Then I started to run out of time and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to complete it correctly. I crammed as much into it as I had time and then turned it in incomplete.
I got a “C”. Me! How embarrassing! I was so disappointed in myself and knew my parents would be too. I promised myself that I would not let that happen again.
Dragons, Depression and Homework
I buckled down and made sure that my assignments were completed on time. I broke each assignment into individual segments and put each segment into a step-by-step plan. Each step had its own specific requirements, time allotment and completion date.
This allowed me to get the work done even if Bip was acting out. When the depression was overwhelming, having everything broken down into individual steps allowed me to get things done. Accomplishing just one thing was a triumph to be celebrated.
I became obsessive about my grades. I would get horrendously upset if I got a “B+” and worry about failing my classes. There are times I would actually burst into tears.
With so many honors/college prep classes I couldn’t afford to miss school. The amount of homework I had kept me really busy and if I missed a day it was heck to get caught up
The Little Brain That Could
By the time I was ready to start high school I knew what classes I was going to take. As I listed the classes I had a couple of teachers tell me that I had set my sights too high. English for College and Humanities would be too advanced for me. I asked them one question. Why?
Their response was that the classes were college level and they didn’t think I was ready for that. I looked at them in surprise. Then I smiled and told them that I would be just fine. I had older siblings that had taken those classes and I knew what they required. Reluctantly these two well-meaning teachers signed off on my class choices.
While I may not have been the most popular student socially, I was really thriving in the honors classes. My friends thought I was a loon for taking four honors classes at the same time (English, Humanities, history, and math). I would look at them, laugh and say, “But it is so much fun!”
Plans for the Future
I had plans to attend college and become a court stenographer. They made $50 an hour and that was really good money in the 80’s.
My parents stressed the importance of education to all their children. While Bip made it hard, I had the support of my family as I struggled to through school. I graduated with a 3.75 GPA. Not as high as I wanted but, it got me on the honor’s list.