Fun, friendship, learning and people that truly make me think. That is what twitter does for me. Recently Michelle Baldwin, aka @michellek107 tweeted the following “Watching this--> The One Thing All Men Feel, But Never Admit ow.ly/n6ghM.” I clicked the link and sat mesmerized, but at the same time I was flooded with memories of growing up and not very good ones.
Being a middle child, bigger than most growing up I lived a life of Insecurity, inadequacy, and never being good enough, or at least that is what I thought. My size, in an all-boys middle school meant play sports or be ridiculed. I played and did my best until I broke a friends ribs near his spine. I walked away from football the next day. I also played basketball, ran track and tried out for the baseball team my freshman year. I enjoyed basketball except for the constant “don’t dribble the ball, rebound and pass.” Or walking down to the boys’ locker room to see if I made the baseball team only to be told by an upper classman “Wood, you don’t really think you made the team do you? Well you didn’t.” Be strong, don't show emotion.
My participation in sports dwindled and I was only playing basketball, at the same time my grades suffered. I felt inadequate. I wanted more but I didn’t want to open my mouth, I didn’t want to say anything that people might use against me, I didn’t feel good enough. One day in class one of my teachers asked what do you want to be when you grow up, my response was "I want to be a psychologist." The room laughed. Be a man.
My junior year a new coach came along and had heard about my ability as a kicker, he also liked my size. He wanted me to come out and play football. I told him I would be happy to kick for him but that was it. He said fine. One week into the season I was told I was too big to just kick and they needed me to play full time. Tight end and defensive end. Maybe I could be someone playing football again. I also made the baseball team that year and I was still playing basketball. My grades improved but I didn’t want to say anything, I didn’t want to be laughed at, I tried to do everything right so people would be OK with me. A safe life. A life that was never an adventure, I didn’t want to risk being ridiculed. Don't be a wimp.Another new coach my senior year and I learned to hate football. I hated it enough to turn down offers. I played basketball but there were better players, I was tired of practicing and sitting. I didn’t want to be a minute man plus I knew I wasn’t going to play in college. We got new uniforms and they had to special order mine. I can still hear the ridicule from my own class mates from the bleachers. I played baseball and did OK. Stop being a wuss.
I could go on and on but this truly is not about me. However, many of you know me and the reason that I am writing this is all because of Michelle Baldwin and that tweet. With school preparing to start, we all know students, boys and girls that don’t “fit” what so very many think is the right mold. Help them to be the best students, people, individuals that they can be, please. All it takes is for you to be interested, to take a moment, show up at a game, stop and talk in the hall, sit with someone at lunch.
We say it is OK for our students to fail but what about the one’s that are fine with academics but feel they are already failing life? Are we looking out for them? Be the difference. Please be the difference that you are capable of being. I could have used a teacher that picked up on what was going on. I am thankful I never made the decision to follow through with what I had concocted in my head during my senior year. Otherwise, there are so many of you wonderful people I would have never known.
Be the difference this year.
Still so much to learn and so little time.