Dear My Ignorant Highschool Teachers

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Dear My Ignorant Highschool Teachers,

 

Remember me? The girl who used to sit always two the left or right of the room, never the centre and never the front row? Who used to read books under the table and stare out the window and wonder just what would happen if the world flipped upside down; or that butterfly on the sill started talking in soft whispers about the taste of flowers?

 

Hello. I doubt you all would remember me. No one ever does.  But I remember. Each and everyone of you. Quite clearly.

 

Let me break it down for you. There are two kinds of people in the world. Introverts and extroverts. Yes, there are ambiverts but most sentient beings incline towards one particular end of the spectrum. Now, introverts gain energy from being alone and use up great amounts when in social situations. Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from social interactions and feel listless in extended isolation. Have we got that down pat? Just simply psychology. Google it, if you need clarification.

 

So. There are many different races in the world. There were many in our classrooms. Yet, of course, you wouldn’t discriminate based on race. Nope. Not allowed. Reprehensible. Could lose your job. And yet, even though there are two diametrically opposite personality types, it’s alright to discriminate against that

 

It’s all right to favor all the bubbly, talkative students who always have epigrammatic phrases spewing from their mouths. It’s alright to ignore the quiet, solemn students that sit like statues around the room, blinking now and then. Those students are weird, aren’t they? I mean, they just sit there. They don’t even talk all the time. And when you ask them questions, they look as if they’re emerging from some deep dark pool of their own mental creation, bedraggled and bewildered, flustered, blubbering, mouth stuttering, pink-faced. Strange, strange creatures. Move on to the next, nice, talkative kid that chats very nicely to all her classmates and has developed properly. Forget about those silent sentinels; they creep you out. Or maybe, and I believe this the better reason, you simply don’t care. Don’t care. Sometimes, I think indifference is the root of all evil, don’t you? People have lost their lives because of apathy. There would be less blackness in the world if people cared a little more, instead of being wrapped up in their own bubble of affairs.  

 

Oh, but, it’s not all your fault, is it? I think the education system backs you all up quite nicely in this arena of prejudice. Yes, equipped you with boxing gloves and protective gear and all that jazz. Because all of a sudden, part of ones grade involves class participation. Yes! Oh, glorious! Isn’t that just every introvert student’s dream? Talk, you, talk, or you’ll fail. If you said that African Americans, for example, could only write about a Caucasian figure they admired and wanted to emulate in their report for their final grade, the media would guzzle it up and regurgitate across the pages of the world like mad. Discrimination! Bad, bad, evil, no, fix this! Angry tweets splattering the cybernet! But, of course, it’s not the same thing, is it? No, of course not. So, now, and you feel the edges of smiles creeping up your cheeks, now the quiet buggers will have to speak up. Or you’ll fail them. Or dip their mark to a degrading C. Even if their written work has been spot on all year.  And that popular, extroverted, happy, charismatic student at the back will smile at you and you’ll smile back and we’ll wonder, quietly, what is going on and whether we should be worried or anxious or angry. We should. All three.

 

Ah! Now we’ve come to favoritism. Is it just me, or are all the extrovert kids favored magnificently by their equally extroverted teachers, hm? And it enables them to get a wonderful free pass when it comes to homework. I mean, it must be annoying to not get an answer from those introverted kids, huh? Must be real tough, bending over the table and repeating the question again and again, louder and louder; the awkward silence hanging like a phantom ready to haunt us all to our graves, until you move on with a shrug. But you’ve already destroyed something, destructed, mashed it all up like two watermelons meeting in an earsplitting, blood explosion. Because that kid, that kid you asked a question, with looming figure and imperious voice? You’ve scarred her. You’ve frozen the blood in her veins, brittle-snapped her bones, withered her skin into parchment. She’s going to hate herself for days. And her peers will treat her as a spectacle instead of a human being. Isn’t that nice?

 

But you know what? I don’t care. I don’t care. I shall surpass you in my apathy. Because no matter how much you all have put me down, I know my own worth and I will love myself in a world that denigrates people like me. I know that there are other students like me who I can relate to, confide in. We commiserate, swap horror stories which we laugh about, even though a pang still twists in our gut at the memory. I know that there are other teachers out there who do understand and who appreciate us quiet folks. I know that I have gifts as an introvert, hard as it may be to believe in them sometimes. But I know they’re there. And I know that if every introvert succumbed to the warlord that is sometimes education and its educators, we would lose many wonderful minds and wonderful inventions and works of art and literature. We are the flitting fairies of society; spreading our magic quietly until the world doesn’t even realise what has happened. We are the dreamers and we build the future. Humanity needs us. Quiet and loud. Yin and yang. Don’t knock a block off one end of the balance because the whole thing will come clattering down.

 

So, you lovely teachers, thank you for taking the time to read this. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

 

I hope one day you all can understand. I hope one day you all can get ‘educated’ yourselves. Because, you’re probably incapable of understanding many people in your life right now. Your friend. Some of your fellow employees. The mailman that slips in the envelopes and scurries away. Who knows. Maybe you have a son or daughter is an introvert.

 

I hope you treat them well. I hope you will one day treat all of us well.

 

And if you don’t?

 

Well, I don’t care.

 

I’ll just keep on dreaming and doing my thing. Ain’t nobody gonna put me down. 

 

 

Cheers,

 

Dreamerrambling

 

 

PS: Will be replying to comments on previous post soon! Just really felt like writing this. You could say it’s been stewing around for quite some time. Hated the writing quality of this, will probably do a rewrite of it in the future. In the meantime, hope you can enjoy it in all its flawed, raw-cracked glory. 

Choosing A Career

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Being the introverted, intuitive, creative, idealistic little dreamer I am, choosing a career isn’t easy.

I’m so jealous of those people who seem to shoot out of their mothers’ wombs knowing what they want to become. I have a friend who is dead set on becoming a marine biologist and has been ever since she could talk. I have people who tell me, oooh, I want to either do this or that or, hmmm, maybe even that? with smiles lighting up their faces.

And I just stand there, nodding and smiling, dreading the moment when they pop the question, ‘So…do you know what you want to do?’ And, maybe it’s just me, but that line is always delivered with such an accusatory, judgmental air, and I feel like I am before some invisible, nebulous jury who will pronounce me unfit for society when I tell them, ‘Uh…no, not really, I mean, I’m still sort of looking into options.’ Clash, bang, down goes the hammer.

I got to thinking about this the other day. As I child, I always assumed I would become either an author. It was an immutable decision in my head. I think it’s fair to say that at that age (six), I hadn’t been able to factor in the reality of money. Or any thing realistic at all, really. All I knew was that my little heart yearned to put paper to pen like all my lovely heroes, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Paul Jennings, Ray Bradbury. But, if I have to put writing on the sideboard as a hobby rather than a career, what can I do? And, as usual, to work out the problem, I wrote the pros and cons of various careers down.

1. Journalist. I mean, I like writing, right? And journalism is a field that employs the written word. I could, you know, do that, can’t I? But, then again, I hear you have to sniff out stories at the crack of dawn and interview people ferociously. I’m the least chatty and charismatic person on the planet. Not sure if that would work out. And jobs are scarce in journalism at the moment.

2. English Teacher. I’m not the most verbally eloquent but I can get by, as least when I’m not nervous. I’m great at explaining complicated concepts, breaking them down into layman terms. And I love kids, I love seeing the beams of understanding on their faces. And English has always been my best and favourite subject, even in highschool. It would be perfect but it would be incredibly draining as an extreme introvert. Trust me, I’ve had first-hand experience. The level of noise that can be achieved in a classroom – ! Perhaps I have to just adapt myself to the environment? Or become a tutor rather than a classroom teacher.

3.  Counselor. Really appealing. One-to-one contact. Still would be draining but less so than talking and being animated in front of a class all day. I would get to talk about FEELINGS all day, and feelings are the essence of my soul. Hope that didn’t sound too dramatic. And I get to help people solve their problems. And be sensitive and caring and nice. But apparently Psychology courses at university are stuffed chock-full of science and spiky statistics rather than hands-on work. Would I be able to hold my interest? Not to mention job security at the end of the degree and the fact that, as a HSP, I would absorb all the emotions, darn it!

4. Editor/Writer. For some online magazine, I suppose. There are lots of those floating around lately on the ocean of the web. But I have no idea how to even crack into a field and whether I have the chutzpah to do it, especially in this ‘economy’ (newsflash: the economy doesn’t exist, it is fabricated by humans and only lives in our minds and has no bearing on reality whatever).

5. A Speech Pathologist. I mean, a lot of it is one-to-one contact. And it involves linguistics, which can sort of satisfy the literary monster within me. And I always loved biology in high school and would prefer to work with the children and the elderly rather than adults. Not a stable career where I live though, the majority of speech pathologists hold part-time jobs.  

6. Translator. You need some creativity or, shall we say, flexibility of mind to work in translation, to be able to switch from one language to another. And, if I’m translating written work, it would fit my introversion. Yes, sitting down and translating at my laptop at home in my pajamas sounds very nice indeed. The only problem is, the only language I’m good at is English. Wouldn’t it be too late to try learning a whole new language from scratch? Should’ve kept those French classes.

7. Advertising director. Creative job. Someone has to come up with unique ideas for advertisements and write the slogans on pamphlets. And I could use my writing skills and it pays well to, at least, working in advertising does. It might be a bit too extroverted of a job for my tastes, but hey, no job can be perfect, right? But is apparently very high-stress, with all the deadlines and whatnot. As a highly sensitive and anxious person, I would prefer a more toned-down occupation but I you can’t everything. I will have to sell a little bit of my soul though, seeing as I hate the entire concept of consumerism and psychologically manipulating people to buy mere objects that they don’t need.

8. Copywriter. Churn out the slogans, write for the pamphlets, be the word flag waver for these countless corporations that want to bleed your pockets dry. But, seriously, it could work? Then again, how does one go about creating a portfolio to get hired. It’s not an easy field to crack into but perhaps I just need to believe in myself a bit more.

As you can tell, I still have no idea what I want to do. I just want a day-job that pays the bills and doesn’t suck out my soul each day so I can go home and spend the rest of my time writing. Deep down, I just want to escape from society and live in a garret in the woods or something as a starving artist, picking off squirrels and writing from dawn till night. But we all know that’s not going to happen.

-Dreamerrambling

 

I Want To Be Anyone But Me

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I Want To Be Anyone But Me

I want to be anyone but me.

I hate being introverted.

I hate the shiver of anxiety I get when I talk to someone new.

I hate the fact that I can’t talk and be bubbly for as long as I want to.

I hate that social interaction makes me feel like my cells are withering after an hour or so.

I hate that people think I hate people. I don’t. I just hate the feeling I get when around too many people for too long.

I hate people drawing me out of my book to talk to me. Just, please. Can I have a little bit of peace?

I hate the fact that my mother thinks I have a mental disorder because I don’t want to be around people all the time.

I hate how she puts me down and hits me because I had a mental breakdown after a day of work and university.

I hate that no-one around me understands.

I hate that the people who ‘get it’ are in books or on the internet.

I hate that I can’t live my life in a hut somewhere on a remote island and just live on wild plants and read and write everyday.

I hate the fact that I completely understand why Emily Dickinson became a recluse.

I hate knowing that so many careers are closed off because I can’t stand extended periods of social interaction.

I hate that the only times I am happy are when I am reading or daydreaming.

I hate feeling so out of place. Everyone seems to be swirling around in the maelstrom of life while I teeter on the edge of it, an observer, peering into the dark, thrashing masses and trying to make sense of it all and never succeeding.

I hate having to please and satisfy the social demands of extroverts.

I hate feeling shame for stealing away to be by myself.

I hate people’s reactions when they find me, all alone with my thoughts, happy as a breeze, in some corner. Why the pity and scorn? Why? I’m not weird just because I’m not mingling. Stop it. Stop making me feel like nothing.

I hate introversion being mistook for submissiveness. Especially since I’m a feminist. They. Are. Not. The. Same. Thing.

I hate having to keep quiet in class even when I know the answer to the question the teacher is proposing, simply because it uses up too much of my socializing battery to speak, my voice echoing through the room, everyone watching, everyone listening.

I hate knowing that I could be a great English teacher but being barred by my introversion. Teaching? Got first-hand experience. Could I do it? For years and years and years? Day in, day out, laughter, chatter, talking, talking, talking, students, teachers. Help.

I hate being highly sensitive.

I hate that I can’t stand next a busy highway without wanting to curl into a ball and wail because of the noise.

I hate that I pick up on everything, social cues, gestures, until I convince myself that everyone hates me.

I hate that I can’t stand my raucous students after thirty minutes.

I hate having to leave the room to go to the bathroom when a bloody or violent and frightening scene appears in a movie and seeing the derisive glances of my friend, ‘Oh, what a wimp, what a soft, weak, little, fragile thing.’

I hate having to move to a different seat in the classroom with everyone watching my migration because one of the fluorescent bulbs above me is flashing.

I hate that I feel like crying if someone looks at me the wrong way.

I hate replaying every social situation or blunder or painful experience from the day. Over and over again. Like a tumor I can’t rip out.

I hate the fact that my own mother doesn’t understand and in her fits of frustration at my sensitivity (life is hard for everyone! Pick yourself up! Why are you crying just because you’re tired of noise and people and talking? What’s wrong with you? You have a mental disorder. SHUT UP. It’s not sensitivity. Don’t use it as an excuse. You’re lazy and didn’t get enough sleep. You’re useless. How do you expect to survive in the workforce? Whack. Slap.) Her physical assaults only sting but the emotional pain burrows deep inside my soul.

I hate being an extreme right brain thinker.

I hate not being practical.

I hate having my head up in the clouds so people think I’m either crazy or weird. Or both.

I hate liking the humanities more than the math and sciences. Math and science are practical. They will get me a ‘proper job.’ It’s where the money is, darling. Now go and study those scrawling numbers that are like barbed wires sticking into your brain, prodding and churning it into a grey mush.

I hate how I’m not suited for any job in the world except being a writer. That’s going to pay the mortgage, isn’t it? Sitting at my desk, typing words, not knowing if I’m just fooling myself and not selling any stories. Not to mention the self-doubt. Besides, your parents will need you to support them, one day. Give up your dreams. Stop being fucking foolish.

I hate people making me feel dumb for liking the soft subjects, the arts, literature, philosophy, anthropology, history. I’m sorry, okay? My brain just isn’t intelligent enough to chew through quantum physics and calculus. And I’d rather die a million horrible deaths than force myself to study them because something deep within me roars and screams and tears at its rib cage enclosure when I do, screaming to me that I’m wasting my time, my life, my abilities, that I’m trying to sieve cement, that I hate this so much, all these dead numbers and formulas, that the only way I could ever push through it is if I daydream and imagine the numbers coming to life and peeling away from the page and pirouetting across the ceiling, telling me about what life is like in a textbook and the students they meet everyday.

I hate that I don’t like the practical subjects, which means I can’t get a practical jobs, which means I’ll be poor forever. Or so they say. Or so my mother says, with her disappointed glare. Only my mother can look both disappointed and affronted at the same time.

I hate my mother’s wrath when I told her in high school that I wanted to drop math. I hated her threats. I hated her telling me I was her only hope and that if I didn’t study some practical subjects, she would die in poverty. Did I want to do that? Her own mother? Sell your soul with a smile, dear.

I hate having weird, off-beat thoughts. I hate having once made the mistake of voicing them once. I hated the judgmental stares and the silence.

I hate feeling like such a freak in a left-brain society. I hate the fact that health and engineering and accounting or whatever are where the jobs are and the art courses are being cut back at universities every year. Arts degree? Pffft. Hope your parents are rich. Literature and writing is a luxury, darling. First, go off and study something practical, like pharmacy. Then you can save up money to dabble in your quaint, little writing hobby. Besides, who knows if you’re good enough to make it? Don’t take the risk. You’re probably not good enough. Only one in a billion make it. You can’t make it.

Money. Love. Money. Love. ‘Money!’ they scream, gold fever fizzling in eyes, lips stretched wide and teeth whisked with gleams, a billion faces, clutching banknotes and throwing them like green birds into the air. Love. Love? It’s a job, honey. You’re not meant to love it. A starving, disheveled writer at his desk in a garret, nibbling on a piece of bread and fighting for crumbs with the rats. Now, now, you wouldn’t want that would you? That’s it, get in line, become a good, hardworking citizen of society. Join the ranks! Collect your retirement money. Live for the weekends. Don’t think too much. They say that helps.

‘She was such a quiet, strange child,’ said Society.

‘Oh?’

‘Oh, yes. In kindergarten, wouldn’t talk to or play with any of the other kids. Best friend was a cat.’

‘How queer.’

‘I’ll say. And she reads, all the time. And she always looks off into space. She gives me the creeps, to be honest.’

‘What does she want to be when she grows up?’

‘Ha! Get a load of this. A writer. The stupid flake wants to be a writer. When her parents are in a state of such indigence. Irresponsible. Flighty. Morose.’

‘Does she need to see a doctor? We can book a psychiatrist for her. There’s something terribly wrong. Yes. Not quite right in the head.’

‘Yes,’ says Society, and pats the heads of laughing, gaggling children.

I hate me.

Reaching Out

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I need your advice.

I know each and everyone of you have very busy lives and that there are better ways to ask questions on the internet, such as on yahoo answers, but I’ve just met so many wonderful, lovely introverted or highly sensitive people through my blog that it makes my heart ache with joy because they UNDERSTAND that I thought it would be better to ask the tiny community on my blog or any empathetic readers that straggle by.

I hope that doesn’t sound presumptuous.

Given my lack of blog posts, I don’t blame any of you for not tuning in to my rambles.

Either way, I’ll spill out my emotional guts as usual.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been drained. Absolutely drained. Bone-crushing, cement seeping, cells withering kind of drained. The kind of drained that makes you want to collapse into a dead faint and sleep for a thousand years. My nerves are fried, they spark intermittently with bursts of anxiety and tension. Even the skin on my face feels as if it were old and sagging like leather, though it looks perfectly smooth and youthful in the mirror. This is a fatigue that has set its roots in my soul. And I want out.

Why are you on the verge of throwing in the towel and moving to the Tibetan mountains to become a monk just so you can have some solitude, you may ask? I’m currently a student at school. I am studying a strenuous course jam-packed with contact hours. Jam-packed. Forty hours a week. No time to take a breather in the library or bathroom cubicle. Rush, rush, rush, from lunchroom, to classroom, to get on the bus for the racous commute, to home. I am an extreme introvert. Like, more than 89% introverted. Which means all of that whizzing around? It is exhausting. I’ve felt like a robot set in triple-speed motion, all blurred limbs and buzzing brain.

Now, if it were just the classes, I would be dead brain tired. After all, I even hated high school due to the extreme noise and requisite social interaction in that institutional hellhole. But, no. Oh, no. On top of all that (which may sound like not much, but for an extreme introvert and anxiety sufferer, it’s like being put onto a forever tightening torture rack each day), I have a part-time job. Why? For money.

I don’t come from an extravagant background. Even though my parents aren’t dirt-poor anymore, they’re still struggling with the mortgage and other bills. They can’t help me when it comes to paying for tuition, buying textbooks (and they can get real expensive. I mean, what are they, made out of solid gold?), paying for food, for school supplies, for transport, etc. And I don’t want to leech off my parents and put even more strain on them in their middle age. They’ve endured enough. I need to be independent and make my own livelihood.

After all, even dreamers have to eat.

So I work at my part-time job after school hours. Seems pretty normal, right? Fit it in when you’ve got time sort of thing. I’ve been working as a part-time teacher for teenagers in high school. Hey, shut up, you have a job, what are you whining for? But it’s like two school days packed into a twelve hours. Like trying to cram two meaty burgers into one’s already shrunken stomach instead of the usual one, and even that it usually has trouble digesting.

And the job isn’t some introverted stocking-the-shelves kind of gig. It’s teaching. I have to be animated, talk in front of the class, smile until I feel my lips are going to drop off, followed my cheeks. It means crinkling up my eyes in bubbliness, because it’s the only way to get their attention, a happy-go-lucky persona, until I want to gouge out my own eyeballs so I can turn this world to blackness and not have to look or face it any longer. It’s slowly killing my life force.

I’m convalescing in bed right now. I’m sick. I have a sore throat, achy limbs. It’s obvious I can’t keep it up. I so desperately crave solitude after a day of slogging at university but I’m not getting it. I’m jumping from the lion’s mouth into a pit of fire. Screaming silently all the way. And I don’t know what to do.

I need the money.

It’s hard for someone like me to find another job. I found this one after many applications. I’m also sick of the application process. Maybe it’s just fear? This job pays well for someone with my level of experience and I feel like I am giving up an opportunity others would die for (ironic, seeing as I feel like I’m practically slowly dying for it).

I’ve tried asking to switch the classes to the weekends. Been told right of the bat that it isn’t going to happen, something about the schedules of the students and their parents. Was wallowing in too much despair to absorb the exact details.

What’s a girl got to do? I’m so sick of this loud, talkative world, it makes my brain rattle and tangles my nerves terribly. I can’t stand it, I want to scream and bawl and cry. I want to hide in some remote cave and live off bats, anything is better than this (well, maybe not that exactly, I couldn’t bear to kill a living creature. Gah. I’m so soft and sensitive it’s no wonder I’m trampled over by the callous, thick-skinned, extroverted people of this land).

Note:  My self-deprecating part of me would like to say some things right now : Oh, poor little me, poor little me. I know I’m being selfish complaining about my introversion issues when people are struggling with far greater issues in the world. My empathy and imagination simply cannot ignore that others might be suffering much more. And that any of you who read this needn’t give a damn about me, I’m just another voice on the internet. So, please, if I’m taking up your time unnecessarily, do not answer. I have no right to your time.

So, here is my question. What should I do? Quit? Stay?

The thought of quitting is liberating, my lungs expand in response and my nerves slacken. But some part of me whispers, maybe you’re giving up too easy. I mean, you’ll have to a get a job one day, right? If you can’t handle this, what if you can’t handle a job in the future? What if you just need to toughen it out? 

I don’t know. All I know is I am a highly frazzled extreme introvert/HSP in need of your help.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, if you cared enough to read this long-winded post this far.  

Dreamerrambling