Do You Know Me?

I know I keep an anonymous profile online with my writing, but if people really knew me, I think they would realize it was me. Here are some facts about me.

  • I graduated as valedictorian of my high school.
  • I gave the commencement speech for college graduation.
  • I graduated from college in 3 ½ years.
  • I became a born again Christian in college.
  • I suffer from depression and anxiety and might possibly be developing mild OCD.
  • I might possibly have hypoglycemia and have to watch what eat in the morning.
  • My favorite things to do are read, write, and sing.
  • I love animals. I have lots of pets but would like to have even more.
  • I worked one summer as a pool manager but eventually resigned.
  • I worked at an amusement park one summer and would love to go back again.
  • I love Harry Potter books.
  • My favorite shows are Mash, House, and Big Bang Theory.
  • I enjoy musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.
  • I sometimes walk with a limp after bending my foot back the wrong way.

Do my friends really know me?

Don’t Touch Me

As a teacher, I have a big rule about not touching others. I know some people are more comfortable with touching and being touched, but I am not. So it is just easier to have all students keep their hands to themselves.

There are some people that just like to touch others for no reason. They like to sneak up behind them and touch them. They like to touch people as they walk by. I have several people like that in my family. It drives me crazy. I feel like I have to watch my back whenever I am around them.

I also do not like touching other people’s hands. I do believe that I have mild OCD and that is my problem. But I hate shaking people’s hands because all I can think about is the germs that are now transferring to my hands.

I also really do not like to be hugged. Hugging means that I have to touch people and they have to touch me. Then, I feel like I am being held too tight and I am never going to escape. I never initiate hugs.

I know there are many positive aspects to touching and being touched but it does not mean that I like it.

Different Denominations

A couple weeks ago, I heard a few people talking about church. First, they mentioned that none of their grown up kids attended the same type of church they grew up in. Then, they moved on to talk about different denominations of churches. For me, I do not see what the big deal is about different denominations. I can understand why there needs to be various churches. Everyone has their own way of worship. Also, some people have slightly different beliefs. It should all come down to Jesus though. As long as we all believe in Jesus as the way to Heaven, that should be all that matters. Who cares whether grown kids are attending different denominational churches? As long as they believe in Jesus, that is all that matters.

Depression

The summer of my junior year, I had gotten home after being gone for six weeks. Since I hadn’t had much personal time for myself, there were a lot of things I wanted to do before school started. That’s why I couldn’t understand why day after day I would just sit on the couch and stare out the window. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I was wasting my summer!

            One day, it hit me. I had depression! The idea scared me. All I knew about depression was sadness and suicide. I didn’t know what I should do.

            I finally decided I was going to snap out of it. I thought I was being kind of lazy that summer. Before I went to bed, I made a list of all the things I was going to do the next day. Once I woke up, I was going to get started immediately on my list. I would be able to sit on the couch and stare into space when I finished the list. Obviously, a person can’t snap out of depression so the list thing didn’t work out. I eventually had to give up on that idea.

            I did some research about depression and while I didn’t understand all the symptoms, as time went on, I began to recognize them in me.

            A year later, I was still suffering from depression off and on. It got particularly bad my senior year. I was taking a very difficult class and I was very stressed. I reached the point where I would rather spend all day sleeping. When I was asleep, I was able to forget about reality and live in my dreams. Since I had to go to school, all day sleep wasn’t possible. I would still go to bed insanely early though.

            Also during my senior year, I wished I didn’t exist. There were times that I wished for the Resurrection. I wanted Jesus to come back and take his followers to Heaven. It is a good thing that didn’t happen because I didn’t surrender my life to Christ until college.

            I knew I was going to be depressed in college. I had learned that many college freshmen feel depressed at the beginning. And since I already had experience with depression, I knew the odds were in my favor.

            And just in case they weren’t, something happened to guarantee that I would be depressed. I lost my grandma a couple weeks before I started freshmen year. I had never lost anyone I was close to and sure enough, I ended up depressed.

            Things got really bad my last year of college. It was then that I started thinking about suicide quite regularly. Not only was I thinking about it, but I was thinking about how I would succeed.

            Being a Christian at this point, I knew suicide was wrong. I am supposed to be trusting God and here I am trying to take control of my life. It I wasn’t a Christian, I don’t know what I would have done.

            Since graduating college, I have found that while I still have episodes of depression, they aren’t nearly as bad, as often, or as long as they were before. I have read that anxiety and depression might be linked. Now that I am not constantly worrying about tests and assignments, I have a little less stress in my life.

            I am ok with not being depressed. I have told God before that He is not able to use me when I am depressed. I mean, I barely have the will to live let alone do God’s work. God just laughed at that though. Who am I to tell God that He can’t use me? God shed some light for me in my last semester of college though on how He can use me.

            I had attended Campus Crusade for Christ quite often my first year of college but I had pretty much stopped going for various reasons my last year. One night though, I was on the group’s Facebook page and saw who was speaking. I felt led to go even though none of my friends would be going.

            The speaker talked about how we are all broken. We all have experienced terrible events in our lives but that God was working through them. I thought about how I have depression. How could God work through a mental illness that plagued my life?

            God gave me the answer. I am a Christian writer. I like to write about things I know while giving glory to God. Why couldn’t I also write about depression? I mean, there are people out there who don’t know a thing about depression. And here I am, knowing way too much.

            Yeah, I have depression. It isn’t a lot of fun. But God is using me through it. I may be broken, but I am God’s servant and He has plans for me that include depression.

Depression is Not a Synonym for Saddness

Despite what the dictionaries and thesauruses say, depression is not a synonym for sadness. It drives me crazy when people use the words interchangeably. As a person that suffers from depression, I know the difference between the two.

Sadness does not last that long. A person that is feeling sad will feel better shortly. They can also snap out of their sadness or be distracted with happy thoughts. A person who is feeling depressed cannot do that. Depression is a mental illness caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Despite popular belief, depression is more than sadness. Sure, there is overwhelming sadness that a person can do nothing about, but there are also the feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness. A person suffering from depression also has loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite. Depression also means thoughts of suicide and has difficulty concentrating.

Is depression and sadness the same thing? Definitely not. If it was, a person could snap out of there depression with a positive attitude. It also would not last as long.

College and Sports

Many kids dream about playing on a sports team in college and then playing for the pros. But for kids, it is just a dream. As they get older, they may develop other interests or realize that their dream was never practical.

Many parents want their child to play sports in college because it will mean a scholarship. Some parents will push their child to participate in several different leagues and tournaments throughout the year. They will drive several hours away to participate in these events.

My aunt did that to my cousin. There were not many weekends when she was not playing in some kind of basketball tournament.

I feel very sorry for kids that have parents like that. These parents push their kids too hard and take away their opportunity to be a kid. Fun is taken out of the sport as they are forced to play it every day.

And the thing is, how many of these kids are actually good enough to play at college? How many of them actually want to play at the college level? I know of a couple college students that did not like the stress of college sports. They had practices a couple times a day and they often had to miss class to go to games. Outside of class and sports, they had no life. I know of college students that will give up their scholarship and go to a different school where they are not going to play sports. There, they are much happier.

I have nothing against college sports. I am just saying that college sports should be what the kids want, not the parents. And the kids should do it because it is what they should enjoy. Parents should lay off their kids and let them explore their own interests and have time to be a kid.

Classroom Managment

As a substitute teacher, I get to see a lot of classrooms. Some classrooms are better than others but I am still getting a general idea that classroom management is lacking for a majority of teachers. At first, I just established it to certain teachers or the fact that I am a young, new sub. But I think as a whole, students are getting away with everything. Students know that their teacher really cannot do anything so they choose to do horrible things and are disrespectful and do not do their work. I am going to talk about some classroom management ideas I have experienced or implemented.

I have seen several classrooms that use the clothespin chart. I really do not like it. Every student has a clothespin that starts in the middle of a chart. If the student does something good, their clothespin moves up the chart. If the student has bad behavior, the clothespin is moved down a level. There is supposed to be a consequence at each level but I doubt the teacher sends the child to the principal every time they reach that level or calls home. The students know that and figure that they can continue their bad behavior.

Taking away recess is common for a lot of classrooms. Some classrooms take away recess from the whole class and others take it away on an individual basis. I prefer the individual basis. One time, I was in a classroom where the teacher took away five minutes of recess from the entire class and then kept adding minutes. She did this every day and it was obvious that it didn’t work. I almost wished she would do something else.

One thing I did during my student teaching was re-teaches. Students that were misbehaving were given invitations to stay in at recess to practice the correct behavior. It only took a few minutes but they hated it because they were old enough to know how to raise their hand or walk in the hall. I didn’t have to issue very many invitations.

Another thing I have done before is play Student vs. Teacher. Whenever a student does something good, the students get a point. If someone does something inappropriate, the teacher gets a point. This worked for a short time in a classroom I was in. But in another classroom, the teachers were told to always make sure the students won. There was also no incentive for winning so it really didn’t do anything.

There is a serious issue with a lot of students today. They do not behave, do not do their work, or are very disrespectful. Every classroom management plan is unique and won’t work for all students but every teacher needs to find one that works for them and their classroom.

Camping Every Weekend

When my family first got the camper, they decided to go camping almost every weekend. At first, it was fun. But then, it got boring. Camping was miserable. I hated almost every part of it.

When we went camping, my mom would make breakfast in the morning. She never does that at home but I am totally ok with that because I hate cooked breakfast. I would much rather have a bowl of cereal.

After breakfast, dishes had to be done. Dishes would take twice as long because the water had to be heated and then the dishes needed to be dried. If we were at home, dishes would be much simpler. I saw nothing fun about dishes while camping.

After the dishes were done, it was time to find something to do to entertain myself. My dad would get mad if we read all weekend. What was I supposed to do? I am not a nature person. I really do not want to go get a bunch of bug bites by walking on the trails. If it was cold, I could not go swimming. If it was hot, the swim beach would be too crowded. If I was at home, I would have a lot more options (and they would not be computer or television).

After a long and boring day, we would be forced to go to bed early because my dad likes to go to bed early. We could not stay up around the campfire or read in our beds. You try falling asleep when you are not tired.

What made the weekend even worse is if it was really cold. Then, you would be huddled in sweatshirts and blankets all weekend, unable to do much but try to stay warm. What is fun about that? If I was home, the cold would not be much of an issue.

Then, there was the issue of the restroom. If you needed to go, you had to walk quite a ways to the dirty, disgusting, restroom. If you wanted to take a shower, it was probably cold.

I was glad when I finally was old enough to stay home from camping. I hated cramming into the small camper that had no privacy and no space and made for a long, boring weekend.

Black Friday

Every year, it seems that Black Friday sales start earlier and earlier. That is really sad because Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about family. Family time is lost as people go out in search of great deals.

I went Black Friday shopping only once just for the experience. I really did not enjoy it either. Since I live in a small town though, it really was not like what you see on the news. I got up early, went to the one store and got a couple things, then went home. For me, it was an ordinary boring shopping trip extremely early in the morning.

I do not know how people can make such a big thing out of Black Friday. What is fun about trying to shop with crowds of people? First of all, it is difficult to find a parking spot. Then, there might be a long line of people waiting to get in the store. Next, there are people who lose their lives because of the insanity of it all. Then, you have to wait in long lines to pay. Are great deals really worth all that? I would rather pay regular price for everything and have a less stressful shopping trip.

Plus, I would rather spend Thanksgiving with my family. I am sure that the people working at the stores feel the same way. Sure, Thanksgiving is what makes or breaks most stores, but is that really what our world has come to? Do we really value good deals over family? It is sad what our country is coming to.

Being Valedictorian

High school can be challenging for many students. Besides the pressures of classes, there are countless activities, friends, and then trying to balance it all together. There is one pressure that does not need to be part of high school though. That is the valedictorian.

            I had never even heard of a valedictorian when I started high school. Once I did learn about it, I struggled to be able to pronounce the word.

            Right as my best friend and I started high school, it became obvious that she was going to become valedictorian. That was fine with me. I was smart but I didn’t look at myself as smarter than her. I also wasn’t willing to go to the same lengths as my best friend to achieve the honor.

            We had one particular teacher that was very strict. She would spend thirty minutes of a ninety minute class lecturing if someone had gum. She would go on and on about past students that had gone above and beyond. Besides being very strict, she was also a very hard teacher. A ninety six percent was an A-. Anything belong a seventy was failing. I really didn’t like the grading system but I would take any grade she gave me. I was scared of her.

            One thing that annoyed my friend was that this teacher would also give us a citizenship grade. My friend would go and argue with the teacher frequently about her grade while I would cowardly wait in the hall. I couldn’t see what her problem was though. She may not have an A but she was still doing very well in that class. My grade was about the same.

            During our sophomore year, five of us were called in to see the guidance counselor. We were all confused about what was going on. None of us were trouble makers. It turned out that the five of us were top of our class and the guidance counselor wanted us to take a certain test. I felt pretty good being in the top five. I had never given much thought to class rank so I was surprised that I was ranked so high. That was good enough for me.

            Junior year, I actually started caring about my grades. I mean, I had always cared enough to study for tests and quizzes. I worked hard on my homework and asked questions when I didn’t understand something. But suddenly, and A- wasn’t good enough for me. It got that if my grade slipped below an A, I would work hard to get it back up.

            The summer of my senior year, I had been flipping through some papers and discovered my transcript. I was very surprised to find that I was ranked at the very top of my class. I had been ranked number one every year except freshman year and then I was ranked second. I was shocked but pleased again at my rank. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay at number one because I was going to take an AP class but I was still going to work as hard as I could.

            That class turned out to be very difficult. Our teacher would make the tests using old AP test questions. Often, I would finish a test and wonder if the book had even addressed some of the questions. That class meant that a lot of people had to study for the first time. I had been studying for tests for years and even I had to step up my game.

            When I was studying, I would reread the chapter a few days before the test. I would read my notes over and over the night before the test as well as before leaving for school. Then, I would leave for school early so that I could attend the review session. Finally, I would study all of first period instead of working on my independent study class. It would be homework for me that night. I was pleased with all my hard work. I would do pretty well on the tests and as a result, I would get an A in the class.

            Every day, it would become more obvious that I was going to be valedictorian. I was happy but scared to death at the same time. I was also feeling bad for my best friend. My friend had revealed the pain of not being valedictorian. Her mom was putting immense pressure on her. A part of me felt bad that I was putting my friend through this pain. I didn’t want to give up this honor though. I was hoping that we could be co-valedictorians.

            As the end of the school year approached, the guidance counselor approached my friend and me and told us that we needed to work on our speeches. We could do one together or by ourselves. I really wanted to do one together. I was not much of a speaker and I had no clue what to talk about. My friend turned me down, saying that she already had an idea of what she was doing.

            I ended up writing a short speech about vague, non-specific memories our class had. The speech wasn’t that great because I was very emotional. My friend wrote a long speech around a poem we had read for class.

            If I could go back, I probably would have found some way to not be valedictorian. It just created a lot of unnecessary stress and divided a great friendship. Just because I was the valedictorian did not even mean that I was the smartest. I got it because I was the hardest worker. The smartest student in our grade often didn’t do his homework because he didn’t care. I have heard that some schools are doing away with valedictorians because of the stress it has been creating. I applaud those schools. It is one honor that I don’t believe is necessary. It is really fair to determine who is the smartest in the class? And really, what does it matter?