I remember hearing years ago of someone going to their 40th high school reunion. I thought, “Woah, that is a long time ago and I wonder how school was back then.” Well, guess what, my 40th year reunion is coming up this weekend. Don’t ask me how that happened…I have no idea. I was just innocently going about my business and one day I received an invitation that says the unbelievable, “40th!” Just doesn’t seem right.
Needless to say many times these past few weeks, memories have flooded back into my mind of my life in school. I can honestly say that I can remember every year of school and every teacher I ever had. But maybe not in a positive happy way as so many can say about their school life. School life for me was very traumatic. The life of a shy girl is hard. I’m not talking about shyness as in being on the quiet side; I’m talking, shyness as in wishing I could disappear and why am I even here. If there was ever any focus on me for any reason, I thought I was going to die. My face would turn so red that I actually thought I was on fire. My chest would break out in hives if I was put on the spot to say my name or much less talk in a complete sentence. You would think I was attacked by killer bees by the way my chest and neck would look.
My first day of first grade is vivid in my memory. Oh, how I loved the classroom. The bright colors and the posters on the wall and the smell of crayons and pencils. I had my brand new red plaid satchel and Big Chief tablet ready to go. What I wasn’t ready for was the stomach aches every morning as I got ready for school. Many times I was sent home because I was throwing up. The school nurse would take me home with a large coffee can in my lap to throw up in. I had no idea at the time why I was always so sick. It was called shyness. This is the year that I found out what “show and tell” was. If you are extremely shy, “Show and Tell” day is the day from the pits of you know where. I still have the note that my teacher sent home to my parents. It said “Beverly is very quiet, she points at things she wants and won’t talk. During Show and Tell she just holds up her item that she is showing and won’t talk about it. Please send her on errands and teach her how to communicate.” Not a good start and I had 11 more years to go.
A couple of months into my second grade year, we moved to another town. For a shy girl to have to move to a new place and then walk into a classroom mid year is heart wrenching. Not once, but twice that year we moved and I had to enroll in a new school. I’m thinking that is why today, I love fresh beginnings. I love new things and I really did like meeting new people. But, the second any attention was brought to me, I would shut down. I could be talking away to friends and if someone mentioned how quiet I was or how soft my voice was, I stopped. The second I became aware that someone was watching me or taking note of anything about me, I wanted to hide and not talk at all.
My third grade year wasn’t getting any better. Once again, we were moving to a new town. The school I was in was huge to me. I had a different teacher for every subject. For each class, I had to get my teacher to sign my records that I was going to have to take to my new school. One particular class I took my little piece of paper up to the teacher and asked her if she would sign it. Only the Lord knows how I got that across to her. As I was walking back to my desk and it was so very quiet you could hear a pin drop, the teacher yelled out, “Well, Beverly Fisher, I hope wherever you are going, you learn how to talk!” Oh my goodness… I sat down at my desk and tears welled up in my eyes, I was so embarrassed as I felt every kid in the class watched me until the bell rang. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I was ready to move, I wanted to go somewhere else and hide. I thought, I will start over and learn to not be so afraid to talk.
Life goes on. Life happens, parents divorce, unstableness, insecurity, hating school, being bullied, wanting to learn but, so much going on in my head I couldn’t concentrate. As a child you just take one day at a time and deal with whatever is handed to you. I was a perfect target for being bullied. I didn’t take up for myself or care to. Jr. High was a nightmare. That was the year I actually got into a fight. I got the pulp beat out of me and the only reason was because a girl got upset because her boyfriend talked to me in the library. I had written a note to a friend (notes were big in those days) and called the girl a “queer” who then told her what I said. Ah, nothing like a friend, right? Granted, I didn’t have a clue what that word meant. It was the big word in those days, everyone used that word. Regardless what I thought it meant, it was obviously a fighting word and I was going to pay for it. Whatever was done or said that day, all I know it was the worst day of my life.
Another oh, so terrible day during my jr. high years was when I had saved my money from lunch to go to the coke machine by the gym to get a canned coke to drink while waiting on my bus. This had been planned since early morning. I was a bit excited that I actually had money saved up. It was probably 25 cents, but, that was huge for me. There wasn’t anyone in the hall area where the machine was. I was standing there reading all the types of cokes and trying to decide which one. As I was about to put my money in, two boys walked up and pushed me back and got their cokes. I waited and as they turned around to leave they stopped and one was on each side of me. I didn’t say anything as I was wondering what they were doing. Then all of the sudden one of the boys grabbed me in my personal area (chest) and started laughing really hard and then they both took off running. It happened so fast and I was stunned. I was mortified. I had no idea what to do. No one was around. I decided against getting my coke out of the machine and I then walked to the bus stop to catch my bus home. I never said anything to anyone. I didn’t even know who those boys were. I couldn’t tell you what they looked like either. I tried to forget it. But, one thing did change. I always, until the day I graduated, carried my books up front covering my chest. I never wore the dress again that I had on that day. I loved that dress. It was a new dress from Sears. We just got it out of lay-away. It was a green and white printed dress that buttoned all the way down. Sort of silky fabric. It was comfortable and I loved it. But never again did I wear it.
Should I mention that I rode a bus to and from school? I had to ride a bus with the high schoolers. By the time I got on the bus they had all the seats. In those days if you didn’t have a seat, you stood in the aisle. Yes, I rode across town on a bus standing in the aisle with a load of books. No backpacks back then, those weren’t cool yet. Many times I would ask if I could sit in a seat that had only one person in it and they would say no and put there leg on the seat so I couldn’t sit down. It wasn’t just me, they did many people that way. One day I discovered I had gum thrown in my hair by the high school girls. I could write a book on my bus riding days, but I’ll save that for another day. I can pass a bus to this day and I get a sickness in my stomach.
My ninth grade year was the year that I became a believer in Jesus Christ. (You can read my story by clicking here.) I began to learn that I was somebody special to my Savior. He created me for a purpose and I had a strong desire to live my life totally for Him. I loved church and I loved my new friends and my church family. Oh wait, I was still shy! Yes, it was still hard for me, but it was different as I had people around me that seemed to love me for who I was. Of course, there were always people teasing me for not talking, not talking loud enough, my face turning red and on and on. Many times I would go home from a church youth activity and cry myself to sleep because I was so embarrassed by things that were said to me. I never gave up though. I strived to get better and learn to talk and not be so shy.
In eleventh grade I signed up for a speech class. I know….a moment of insanity. At that time, I had wanted to fulfill my life long dream of being an airline stewardess/fashion designer and somewhere I read that you needed two things; to know a foreign language and how to speak well. Well, I had visioned myself flying to Paris as a stewardess or a fashion designer, so french was the language for me. Hello, for a girl who struggled with focusing and taking the time to really study, french might not be the language to take. That was a bust. I knew a few words but I sure couldn’t carry on a conversation in french as my teacher did as she led the class in french.
After a couple of weeks in my speech class, my good friend who joined with me got out of it. She didn’t want to give a speech every Tuesday morning. I didn’t either, but I didn’t know we could change our mind. So, the next day I went to my counselor and told her I wanted to get out of my speech class. She looked at me and said, “No, you can’t, you waited too long, the deadline was over yesterday to switch classes.” Tomorrow I will share “Life in Speech Class for a Shy Girl.” Many lessons were learned in the longest 8 weeks of my life as a shy girl who signed up for only the Lord knows why, speech class. Oh, should I mention while in the counselors office, she asked me what I planned to do with my life after high school. I told her that probably college somewhere. I didn’t mention the airline stewardess or fashion designer idea as she was very intimidating. She didn’t seem too impressed with me so I didn’t want to share my thoughts too much. She then said, “well, you might think twice about that, you aren’t college material.” I said, “oh,” and walked back to my class. I can still hear her voice telling me that even to this day.
Ahhhh, at last graduation! Oh wait. My english teacher called me up to her desk the week of graduation and told me I didn’t have enough credits to graduate. Somehow I had failed to turn in a couple of book reports. How did that happen? Don’t ask me! It’s all a blur. All I know is that I worked really hard at reading a couple of books that I had no interest in whatsoever and wrote a book report. I never heard another word from my English teacher if I got my credits and I would graduate. The day came for graduation rehearsal. We met at the stadium and sat in our assigned seats. They began calling each person to come up and walk across the stage. As my row stood and went to the platform in the middle of the stadium I didn’t know if my name was going to be called or not. I had the horrible sick feeling in my stomach that my name wasn’t on the list. As I stepped up on the platform, they called my name and handed me a little card that was a replica of my diploma that we would receive on graduation night. I double checked and there was my name. I was in! Oh wait….I then had the thought that maybe they messed up and it was already printed and they hadn’t told me yet that I wouldn’t graduate. Well, graduation night came and not only was I nervous about walking up to the stage but I was double nervous that there was a mix up and my diploma wasn’t there. Well, it was there and oh, my goodness, the sickness went away the second the announcer called my name. I now look back and wonder why I was put through that torture and why didn’t the teacher talk to me….why didn’t I have the sense to go to her and understand exactly what it was she wanted from me and what I did to deserve that torture. What did it all matter, I just felt like a million pounds had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now to go set the world on fire as they say. Not really set the world on fire, but go and do something really exciting and life changing.
Now what’s the shy girl going to do……
Life only got better. Well, lot’s of bumps and bruises along the way but I had a Heavenly Father that walked through every second of life with me and He’s still with me nudging me as I write and as I share things on this blog that I only hope would encourage and inspire others to be better people, to think about others and most importantly to share the amazing love of my Savior, Jesus Christ!
I’ve learned so many lessons…..many good….many very good and many not so good. I try to use each of my stories of life and what I’ve learned to show that my God is a good God and He loves you just as much as He loves me and He can get you through anything….even through 12 years of school where I learned how to make it and keep on keepin’ on regardless what was thrown at me. Even if you are the most shy person on earth…..you can make it! Actually, my shyness kept me out of a lot of trouble and away from some things that I watched others be hurt by. That’s all for another day, too.
So, I’ll leave you with this:
If you know of a shy person, especially a child, give them the biggest hug you can give and look at them in the eyes and tell them they are special to you and special to God. Be sure to tell them that they can and will do great and mighty things and that you will help them be the best they can be. Then you pray for that child to be secure and strong in who they are. Don’t be shy, you can do it!
Until next time,