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Getting Blasted by the Past

It’s funny what things can drag you back into the past.

Blasted by the past- Pauline Baird Jones

I found this blog post from 2014!

It’s funny what things can drag you back into the past.

I hear Bad Moon Rising and I’m back in high school in a happy way, but today I clicked on a video (of a PE coach trying to force a female student into the swimming pool) and it sent me back to the dark times of high school when it sometimes felt like I was the meat on that grill.

In my day, students formed into groups based on how good they were at sports or if they could sing or play an instrument. Academic ability also helped in the olden days. It helped to be good at something. I was good at two things:

  • Blending into the woodwork
  • Reading books

While reading has been a great comfort and put me on the path to being a writer, it wasn’t a path to popularity in high school, or before high school.

When I turned thirteen, I temporarily lost my ability to hide.

I wonder what it is about heading into puberty that makes you visible in odd and awkward ways? It wasn’t just about bodily changes because I mostly just got a bit taller. And even less coordinated.

In fact, my one physical skill back then was the ability to read and walk.

My lack of coordination hit right when the school ramped up PE to a credit course, rather than a break for the classroom teacher. It was a required misery from 7th thru 12th grade.

I hated it every day.

Thinking about it still sends a chill down my back.

Watching that video brought back all the misery of being forced to do something “for my own good” that rarely felt good.

I realize that PE teachers become PE teachers because they loved PE, but there must have been something else they weren’t good at? So they could understand that not everyone was good at everything? It just never felt like they got that. That they believed if I’d just try a little harder, I’d do better.

Now there were other things in high school that I wasn’t good at but the thing with PE, you were not good at it in front of everyone. All the time.

I had the odd moment of sucking in chemistry and biology, but in those classes, if you followed directions you could usually get through an experiment with a low level of embarrassment.

And you and your grades were mostly between you, your report card, and your parents.

Not so with PE.

It was painful from the opening bell to the closing bell.

My resistance to PE was mostly of the mute, sullen variety. And I’m sure it must have been massively frustrating to my various teachers.

But seriously, we were teenagers. Mute and sullen was pretty much our go-to place for at least part of those years.

We didn’t know who we were, what we were becoming, and it scared the crap out of us but we’d rather do lame and stupid things rather than let that fear show.

I remember the day one of my PE teachers went out of her way to embarrass me in front of the class. I knew she was wrong, out of order, all of it. Did it destroy me?

No way. I was tougher than that (which was good to know, btw).

I’d like to think it eventually made me a better person. I’ve been in the teaching role and I’m always aware there is a certain amount of power that comes with that role that should be wielded with care.

Sometimes I wonder if I’d like exercising type things more if my teachers had been less hearty and more compassionate. Probably not.

My best skill is still reading.

Looking back, I think the real damage that was done (and mostly by me from learning the wrong lesson from the experience) was inside my head.

For a long time, I just assumed hearty, athletic people wouldn’t like me. I think I probably missed out on some good friends until I rewired my expectations. This didn’t happen because I was so smart, but because some really cool people wouldn’t let me not be friends with them.

Of course, it’s pretty typical for teens to seek comfort and acceptance from those like them, but in high school and then beyond, my life has been blessed by friends who wouldn’t let me hide. Who insisted on being my friend when I was sure they wouldn’t.

I do sometimes wonder how many friends I missed because of my low expectations of myself?

And I wonder if I wouldn’t have gained a better appreciation for athletic-type things if school programs weren’t so one-size-fits-all?

I’ve since played (briefly) on a women’s softball team and also (even more briefly) on a woman’s basketball team. I didn’t completely suck (though I still dribble like a lame girl) and enjoyed it. And I enjoyed it when I stopped and I could go read a book. LOL

So, do you ever feel blasts from the past? Have a sense of missed opportunities or gratitude to people who helped you NOT miss them? Learned the wrong lesson and had to rewire yourself? Do share, please or you’ll hurl me in the past again.

Perilously yours,

The Last Enemy and I are participating in a thrilling book event! You can check it out here for your next thrilling read!

The Last Enemy Lonesome Lawmen 1 by Pauline Baird Jones
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