Pearls Of Being A Wallflower

Pearls Of Being A Wallflower

Role models come in all different shapes and sizes.
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“Why don’t you go and sit there by G?” I suggest to one of my students.

“No I don’t want to, he’s weird.”

I looked over at the student he was referencing and couldn’t believe what he was saying. I looked at one of the timidest, kindest and most intelligent sixth graders with navy blue crocs and curly red hair. Every day, this student walks into the classroom and greets me with a big smile and tells me about his lack of sleep regardless of going to bed at 9 p.m. To me, he’s an ideal student. I thought to myself I would do anything to be like him when I was his age.

However, it has been eight years since I was in sixth grade.

Aeropostale t-shirts, colorful capris pants, and bobbed hair with a poof is the best way to describe my middle school appearance. At the time, I wanted to be the cool girl with the best “boyfriend” and the prettiest friends. My reputation mattered more to me than my grades, and my insecurity skyrocketed through the roof. I would’ve done anything to be the popular girl.

When I finally escaped middle school, it was never in the books for me to return. God works in mysterious ways, and now I’m back helping to teach fifth through eighth-grade intervention. Sadly, I traded in my graphic tees and dangling earrings for dress pants and blouses, but my idea of what was cool in middle school has changed significantly since working with some of the most remarkable students I’ve ever met.

Goth wasn’t cool when I was in middle school. The dark clothes, hair and makeup were too intimidating for me to comprehend. It seemed that the goth kids were always sitting alone at lunch and didn’t really want to socialize with anyone else. Now, however, I think the self-expression and honest outlook on life is beautiful and inspirational. I have met students dressed in black who have added more color to my life than I could have ever imagined. They are mysterious but observant and are proud to stand out, which is not something I would have ever been willing to do.

Cute, colorful clothes don’t make you cool; self-awareness and the desire to stand out do.

Trans wasn’t cool when I was in middle school. In fact, I don’t think I could name a single transgender person in my class at that time. I have met a student that has shown me more bravery and self-love than any other fifth grader I have ever met. It’s an honor to have been trusted with the story of self-transformation and being able to get an inside scoop on staying true to yourself and recognizing how you want to feel in your own skin.

Being the cute couple that everyone wants doesn’t make you cool; confidence in who you are and the ability to love yourself and acknowledge who you want to be does.

Nerds weren’t cool when I was in middle school. They seemed to always brag about their good grades and they always got the attention of the teachers. Now, their drive and motivation push me to do well in my own academics, regardless of the huge age gap between us. These students carrying around eight books in their backpacks and getting ahead in the class readings are going to be our future leaders.

Acting like you don’t care about school doesn’t make you cool; motivation and a drive to succeed does.

In retrospect, like many of that age, I didn't want to be like the out-of-the-ordinary kids. They were the ones I was unfamiliar with and wanted to avoid being similar to at all costs. Ironically, years later, I now view them as models for who I want to be. I’m inspired by their individuality and their bravery to stand out in a crowd. To me, they are the epitome of “cool” and should be seen as shining examples by everyone in our society.

I’d be more than happy to sit by G. I encourage everyone to open their minds and take that seat too.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Getting Straight A's In College Is Not Worth Failing Your Mental Health

A's are nice, but you are more than a letter.

Kate
Kate
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The idea of getting an A on every paper, every exam, every assignment, seems great. It can be known as a reassurance of our hard work and dedication to our 4+ classes we attend every single day.

Losing sleep, skipping meals, forgetting to drink water, skipping out on time with friends and family; these are the things that can occur when your letter of an A is what you are living for.

You are worth more than the grade letter, or the GPA number on your transcript.

Listen, don't get me wrong, getting A's and B's definitely is something to feel accomplished for. It is the approval that you did it, you completed your class, and your hard work paid off.

But honey, get some sleep.

Don't lose yourself, don't forget who you are. Grades are important, but the true measurement of self-worth and accomplishment is that you tried your best.

Trying your best, and working hard for your goals is something that is A-worthy.

Reserve time for yourself, for your sanity, your health, your mental health.

At the end of the day, grades might look nice on a piece of paper, but who you are and how you represent yourself can be even more honorable.

Kate
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Host Families Are The Best When Going Abroad

Host families will get you closer to language, culture, food and fun!

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Have you ever thought about going abroad? Or maybe you've already decided to go and are dealing with all the paperwork right now? There are so many options to explore a different culture and various perspectives on life. You can go abroad and study at a foreign university. If you're not interested in studying, you can apply for a job and gain first working experience abroad. Also, you can do an internship in a different country, or work as a volunteer in a help organization. So many options. But they have one thing in common: A host family.

A host family is a family who takes in young people, who left their country to work or study abroad, for a certain time. Obviously, a host family is not a must. If you don't feel it, you can rent an apartment and that's totally fine. However, I would like to tell you today why I think a host family is one of the best things while going abroad.

First of all, you learn the foreign language a lot better. I mean, that's one of the reasons for going abroad, right? You want to improve that language you've been studying at home. And there is no better way than to speak it every day with native speakers. And that's what your host family offers you. Living together, communication is a necessity, and thus the best motivation to improve your language skills!

Second, when living with a host family you get to try the traditional dishes of the country. In my opinion, the cuisine is a very important part of a country's culture. It's thus a huge difference if you go abroad and keep on cooking your stuff from home, or whether you experience a new culture through their nutrition. Take the chance and get to know new recipes, new spices, and new dishes. It's so exciting!

Third, a host family is the best place to get to know the culture of a foreign country. You'll learn all about their holidays, celebrations and traditions not simply by listening about them but by living them! Your host parents will make you part of the preparations and you get to ask questions throughout the whole experience. There is no better option to get to learn about a culture!

Forth, and probably the most important one, a host family is a trusted friend in a foreign world. When you're leaving home you expect everything in the new country to work as easy and usual as you know it from back home. But that is often not the case. And very often you're ending up in a chaos of opening bank accounts, applying for new phone numbers, looking for apartments, figuring out a hundred things for your studies, … all by your own. A host family is there for you if you need help and assists you during your first days, weeks, sometimes even months of your stay abroad.

If you want to apply for a semester or internship abroad and didn't consider a host family at all, do it now. Those of you who already have been through the experience of going abroad and living with a host family know what I'm talking about. I definitely can say that my host families became friends for life and I'm infinitely grateful for the help and warmth they offered me.

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