Public school was torture for me. It was a horrible time in my life, which made up the bulk of my childhood. My parents had five boys in the space of seven years and they were ill-equipped to care for us. I’m sure school was a welcome relief. As a parent now I find it remarkable that anyone could send their kids off to public school or any other kind of school that takes them out of the home at such an early age. I’m sure this is a controversial statement and my experience is mapping over my opinions, but as they say…it is what it is. Many of my fears, hang-ups, misinterpretations about self, others and life were formed in the early years of my life and that was predominately in the context of school.
The big difference for me was that I had no sounding board to work through my anxieties, fears, frustrations and concerns. I had to fend for myself. I suppose if I had parents that had time, interest and skill in taking care of me then public school would not have been such a menace of my early life. However, that was not the case and public school was one nearly unbroken stream of subtle to not so subtle persecution, frustration and fear. It was not a good experience and I’m not just speaking of the negative things that came my way. I’m also speaking of the good things that came my way in the form of encouragement, as rare as those moments were. I was not prepared to handle the negative or the positive. My ego was either defeated or overly-enlarged.
What I mean is that my life was so consumed by fear of man, manipulation, put-down, anger, negativity, hostility, competition and steady chaos that there was a deep seated craving crammed down my soul for acceptance. Therefore, when I received encouragement it merely fed a monster in my soul for more of the same. And I began to morph myself into whatever it took to create a world where I could be praised. However, I learned how to seek it, manipulate it, get it and enjoy it. This became more evident as I became an adult and learned to work hard for accolades or perform in other ways in order to gain acceptance. Even as a Christian I have been more interested in becoming what other people liked rather than the person that Christ wants me to be, which is Christlike.
Public school was the breeding ground for the inner working of my soul without the watchful eye of anyone who could come alongside me to unpack me and walk me through the various inner turmoil of negative thoughts and fears. By the time I graduated fear of man had gripped my soul and I was an “accredited” people-pleaser who was seeking to measure up in the eyes of somebody, anybody in this life. They say public school is a place where kids can develop socially. It crippled me and I’ve spent the last 29 years trying to unlearn what I learned.