What’s your biggest high school regret?
That would definitely have to be that I went along with my Mum’s idea that I should pass my finals in a school for the blind. I went to a mainstream high school, so called high school for adults which meant we had classes only some days a week and in the evenings, and it was generally a lot less demanding than a regular high school, you didn’t pick your main subjects or anything like that. I didn’t have to go there and could pick just a regular high school, because I was just nineteen at the time and I was going there straight from secondary/junior high school/whatever other equivalent you have in your country before high school, and it was very unambitious of me, but I went this route thinking it would be a lot less difficult for me practically and less stressful in general, with all the peopling and other stuff that I didn’t really feel I needed. In the end it went even better because some teachers were so scared of me that they embraced my suggestion that I would just homeschool myself at home and they would send me control assignment topics and exam dates and I would send them control assignments and only come to school for exams every half-term. That worked really well for me also because a lot of what my classmates did was based either on slides or textbooks, and I obviously couldn’t see the former and didn’t have the latter in an accessible format, so it felt like a huge waste of time. This way I was also able to have more hours with my math tutor, who was a special ed teacher for the blind and deaf, since as you all probably know by now I sucked at math and my school teacher had no clue how to teach the subject to a blind student, especially one like me hehe, despite her best intentions. Despite loads of hours of tutoring that I had, lots of homework that I got from my tutor and my desperate and mostly fruitless hours of trying to learn it myself somehow, I was pretty sure that I was going to fail my math finals pretty miserably and my Mum was worried about it too. So she thought that perhaps it would be easier for me if I could do them at a blind school. Not the one that I used to go to, but one a bit closer to us. I knew that when you have to have an official school exam and have some special educational needs, then it has to be adapted for your needs, but we were slightly worried if it’s going to be the case because when at some point the deputy head asked me if I’m going to take the finals and I just casually mentioned that I’ll need to have them adapted, in Braille and all that, she was absolutely flabbergasted. Plus, I thought I’d generally feel safer with the math exam specifically when I had competent people in the committee, even though they obviously wouldn’t be able to help me with the exam itself or anything like that.
We were even more enthusiastic about it when it turned out that, in that school, unlike my previous blind school, each student writes their exams in a separate room. It can feel awkward, especially if you’re like me and always finish exams super fast, whether you’ve done it really well or really badly, because if I know everything, why would I need to take an eternity writing it, and if I don’t know anything, why would I sit around wasting everyone’s time pretending to do something? It’s even more awkward, because, very unfortunately for me, when you have special educational needs, you have more time for doing the exams. So whenever I had some official exam and said I was finished, everyone was all like: “Already?! Are you sure?” sounding extremely surprised and kind of suspicious. But if I sat with it for longer just to seem like I’m still writing, checking it for the 30th time in a row, the time flows agonisingly slow. Especially if you have a zombie day like I had on the day of my Polish final, or when you get a migraine like I got on my math final. 😀 But, overall, having a room and a committee just for yourself can also feel better than being in a room with loads of other people, especially if everyone writes on a Brailler and these tend to be loud-ish. I just generally had a good feeling about it, or perhaps I decided to trust Mum’s feeling, despite I actually had quite a bad experience with that school from a couple years earlier. Namely, after I left the blind school that I went to for most of my education, there was a few months of limbo that I had and we didn’t really know what to do with my education further except that I wouldn’t go back there. So my Mum got an idea that we would go ask in this blind school closer to us if they’d perhaps be able to help somehow, though we weren’t even sure how, but perhaps a bit naively thought that something along the lines of letting me use their educational resources or sending a teacher at least once in a while to help me with schoolwork. They said that, hm no, this isn’t something we do, and then the situation had a yucky twist because they all suddenly started to persuade me that I should join their boarding school. Well, I certainly didn’t leave one boarding school to replace it with another, that generally has worse reputation among blind people from what I know of, so I was absolutely adamant that I was not going to do this, but they kept trying to convince me and before I knew it there was a whole team of people of all kinds of professions surrounding me and telling me how I need their school but just don’t know it yet, and I was feeling increasingly like I was about to go crazy. It’s a frequent theme in my nightmares, both regular and sleep paralysis ones, that someone tries to convince me to do something or wants to do something to me and I keep telling them that no, for fuck’s sake, I don’t want it, yet they keep shoving it in my face and then end up either doing what they want or forcing me to do something, so it always makes me feel kind of threatened or something when this happens in real life, let alone a situation like that, I seriously thought I was in a dream. 😀 What was worse was that they ended up almost convincing my parents, and I still had a few months until turning eighteen so when we finally left, they were feeling very much that I should go there. Rescue came to me from the most unexpected direction I could imagine, and my grandad also deserves some credit, but that’s a different and unrelated story.
Going back to my finals, in the end, I donn’t think it made a substantial enough difference for me that you could really call it a difference at all that I took the exams in that school. Especially that I ended up failing math anyway. And it was all extremely stressful not only for me but also my parents, who had to drive several times back and forth, as this school is several hours drive away. I guess only Sofi enjoyed it and whenever the topic comes up, she always says how she’d like to go back there again because she has nice associations with that time and enjoyed sleeping in a hotel when we decided to stay in that town one night. Some bits about that experience were kind of triggering for me and in particular dealing with their “amazing” headmistress, I don’t think I’ve ever had to do with an equally or more toxic and just all round unpleasant being in my life, almost like an embodiment of Maggie my inner critic, even their names are etymologically related. Ever since then I always hear Maggie speak in her voice. 😀 If she’s like that with her regular students, I feel extremely sorry for each one of them and wonder how much counselling they’ll need later on in life, they should get compensations or something.
How about your high school regrets? 🙂