I had not actually ever planned to write a post on this subject, but I was browsing through some quotes for my Instagram (@thewanderingwriter28) and I stumbled upon this John Lennon quote:
“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”
and it reminded me of something that once happened to me in high-school, and I thought that it would make a good story on here, so why not? Actually, it’s going to be three-ish stories.
So, story #1 – what you need to know before I get into it: I used to be a huge Twilight fan. That saga was among the very first novel series I’d read, and it played a very large part in me deciding that I want to become a published novelist one day. I did start writing more seriously and just more after becoming a Twilight fan, so I do admit that I have some pretty amazing memories related to it, and that it was actually the gasoline that made my writing spark burst into flames. And, amid me being a part of the fandom, I was out shopping once and in one store I saw a black t-shirt with glittery pink letters that spelled out “Looking for a vampire” on the front. And I bought it. And I was quite happy with that t-shirt.
Some amount of time later, I am a junior in high-school, and we get a new subject – Logic. It was taught by a teacher we hadn’t encountered yet in freshman and sophomore year, so none of us knew what to expect. I personally often can make out what the teacher is like pretty quickly, like, there are certain vibes that people have that absolutely do not go with mine, and so I’ve encountered a couple of teachers that I could barely tolerate.
Anyway. The Logic teacher comes in and the part of the class is alright, nothing special happens. And then he says, let’s go around the class and everybody introduces themself. Which I despise sooo much. I’m in college now, and we sometimes do it in classes there, too, and I still to this day absolutely hate introducing myself in three sentences. But fine, I’d do it, I’d survive, it would be fine. And so, I was somewhere around the middle in the classroom, and the teacher did comment here and there on what some of my classmates said, and so I was really crossing my fingers that he wouldn’t say anything like that to me.
And so my turn arrives. I say a few sentences, he says okay, I’m starting to expel this breath I’d been holding.
He says, “What’s that writing on your shirt?”
And of course, I was wearing the vampire-searching t-shirt. So I inwardly roll my eyes and tell him what my t-shirt says, and he then asks me whether I believe that vampires are real. And this is actually the part that I related to with that Lennon quote, because the following was, and still is, my stance on that question:
I do not believe that there are vampires walking among us. I do not consider myself a vampire. I do not sleep during the day and walk with fake fangs among the streets at night looking for people to attack. I do not drink blood.
I do, however, believe that there is no reason to think that vampires (and other supernaturals) should not be real. Like, maybe there are other dimensions and hidden worlds and glamours that keep our human eyes from seeing them, etc. I do not have any proof, nor would I ever go proclaiming that I encountered a vampire or anything similar unless it were true.
But I do believe that nothing is impossible. I grew up developing a great love for fiction and storytelling and things that seem impossible and otherwordly. Creative writing is my greatest passion, of course I’m going to believe in the unlikely.
And so, when asked that question, I replied that I don’t think they are among us, but that I don’t exlude the possibility of their existence. And this got a couple of laughs from the classroom, but fine, I wasn’t bothered by that. I was bothered, though, when the teacher laughed and said, “No, no, I want a one-word answer: do you believe in vampires, yes or no?”
Now, I’m the kind of person who gets really anxious when put under spotlight, especially in situations like this one. I have social anxiety, I get pretty wrecked before I have to give a speech in front of the class etc. So I think that, in many other cases, if I were confronted with a question like that, I would probably lie and say the answer that is more “socially exceptable” or whatever, just to get that attention away from myself. But there was something that time, something defiant in me, the want to stay true to myself and my beliefs and my thoughts, that made me say reply “yes”. Of course, that got quite a few more laughs, but then we moved on to the next person.
Later on, that teacher would reference that whole thing a couple times later – for example, in the summer between junior and senior year, here we have a tradition of going on a 10-ish day long international trip, and it’s a pretty big thing here, second to prom. As junior year was coming to an end, we had to decide where we wanted to go etc., and there were many discussions, and since that teacher was actually in charge of one of the other classes in my generation, he once asked us where we wanted to go, and he asked everyone individually. And so, of course, when it was my turn, he commented something along the lines of “Oh, I’m sure you want to go to Transylvania”. Because Dracula. Because vampires. Because I’m a freak who loves vampires.
So… yeah. I mean, I will say that he was otherwise a solid teacher, and that I had an A in both that class and in one class in senior year that he taught. But still, the problem I have with that whole situation is the fact that he would often poke fun at not only me, but practically everyone else in the class. Sometimes the jokes were harmless and funny, but sometimes they were a bit distasteful. I actually had a teacher like that once in college, too, and I was so annoyed with him that going to that class was pretty much the worst part of my week.
The moral of this story, I guess, is – don’t be that guy. Or girl. Don’t be that teacher that has to make stupid jokes at the pupils’ or students’ expense and put them in awkward and uncomfortable situations. I mean, not to be dramatic, but like, if I were in some other school with some other people and that happened, maybe I would have been bullied for what happened. And, considered I wasn’t really in a good place mentally during high-school, who knows what could’ve happened had that occurred.
Anyway. Story #2.
When I was in elementary school (which is grades 1 through 8 where I live), I was perfectly alright with math. I was a solid B, sometimes even an A. But then high-school happened and we got this teacher who was infamous for being pretty strict. And I realized, right from the first test she gave us (which was basically a test on the subject matter from the years before), that I would not have a good time in that class.
Soon enough, I got my first F. Ever. Then another one, then another, and things pretty much spiraled down from there. (For the record, I also suck in physics, and am not the best in chem, either; and the combination of the bad grades I started getting in those subjects had a lot to do with how depressed I became.) She flunked me, a lot, I almost failed freshman, sophomore and junior year because I almost didn’t pass her subject. She lowkey hated me.
And you know what’s the worst part? I wasn’t the worst ever at math. Like, I could have done alright, if not for the fact that she immediately sought out three of four star pupils who were better at math than the rest of us combined, and then leveled all of the tests to their abilities. She would give us super advanced tasks because four people knew how to do them. The rest of us? Yeah, screw us.
There were a lot of ups and downs (more downs, actually), and there were quite a bit more things about her personality and teaching methods that really bothered me, but the culmination of everything was near the end of senior year. Now, in my country, at the end of high-school everyone takes a couple of big final exams, something like the SATs: there are three mandatory subjects, among which is math, and the rest are optional and you choose which one(s) you want to take. For each of the three main exams, each person chooses whether they want to take the A or B level exam, B being the easier version, and A being the advanced, more difficult, level. As far as math goes, B level is child’s play, practically. All you need to do is put numbers in the right formulas, which you can have printed on the exam, and you’ll get a solid grade. In other words, even my harrowing math skills are more than enough to pass the B level.
So, back to that wonderful day of senior year. It was a double period (can you feel my enthusiasm leaking through this text), and I think that it was the day when the teacher brought the results of a test we’d had a week or so earlier. So she wrote down everyone’s grades, she looked at me with her wonderful smirk as I got an F again, all the usual stuff. But then, once all the grades were in, she decided to browse through the book in which all the grades were (I can’t for the life of me remember the word for that on English, if there even is one) and see who was doing well and who wasn’t and stuff like that. I braced myself iternally for what was surely about to happen, especially since I was the first one alphabetically so I would be the first one to get her wonderful commentary. And she opens the book and she accidentally skips the first page – my page – and I’m both nervous and suddenly slightly hopeful; but then she realizes that she skipped my page and goes back.
And it began. It went like this: *opens my page, looks at my atrocious grades* *sighs* “I won’t say anything…”
But then. “You know what, I have a little bit of a cold today, so I won’t hold back.”
And then she proceeded to belittle me for about five minutes straight, telling me that I wouldn’t even pass that B level exam with my non-existent knowledge. And she ripped into me so bad that, when finally the five-minute reccess between classes came and she left the classroom for a break, I nearly started crying. It was honestly one of the most awful feelings I’d felt during high-school, and knowing that everyone else was there to witness that was even worse.
I took the B level exam. I was a point short from a B, and I realized the mistake I made on one of the tasks as I was going down the stairwell toward the school exit – if I had realized it five minutes earlier, I would have gotten a B. So there. I did that on my own, definitely not thanks to any of her encouragement and teaching.
Oh, and also? Try and guess how many of all those complicated formulas I’ve used since I gratuated high-school? NONE.
Story #3. As you might have figured out by now, I’m not the numbers, textbook-smart, science kind of girl. I’m more of a literature and language kind of gal. I am also not a sporty person, but rather a Netflix-binge-watch and pizza kind of person. In other words, I have no stamina and I never liked P.E.
Especially not in high-school, where the teacher tried to practically make athletes out of us all. And she was all about “I know not everyone is a sporty person and not everyone is built for that, but I want you to give it your all, to show any improvement and will to participate”. Sounds reasonable enough, yes. But, thanks to my un-sportiness, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to perform a lot of the things she taught us. And knowing that made me pretty much freeze whenever I had to try out something new I thought I couldn’t handle. I just couldn’t do it, especially knowing that everyone was watching and surely silently judging me. And because of that, the teacher thought that I wasn’t even trying to make progress, and she didn’t like me that much sometimes. On one instance, we were suppoded to practice dribbling a basketball ball and getting it across the room and she singled me out to show everyone how it’s not done. In senior year, we were learning how to do somersaults, and I couldn’t bring myself to even try it because there was such a mental block in my head. And she told me off in front of the whole class, and it wasn’t fun. So, things like that. And these things, every one of these events I’ve just described to you, plus a few more, they make me feel bad even to this day – I sometimes start thinking about them as I’m trying to fall asleep, and they make me feel so awful still. It will take me a long time to forget them, if I ever do.
(Oh, also, during all of these, I was quite a bit crushing on a boy from my class, so he witnessed everything. It was pretty horrifying.)
All in all, if I manage to get any messages across from these stories, I’d like it to be this: be mindful of other people. Be aware that maybe they’re not just lazy and not interested in the subject; maybe they’re struggling on the inside and are close to their breaking point and just can’t find the motivation to do stuff. Maybe they have crippling anxiety that’s preventing them from speaking up, from doing gymnastics, etc. And be aware, please be aware, that what you say to others might do so much damage, especially at that age when everything feels so big and eternal and awful and a lot of people are struggling already with other issues.
On a different note, shoutout to all those teachers who are mindful and kind and genuinely have students’ best interest at heart. I had the priviledge of meeting a couple of them, and I will remember them fondly for the rest of my life.