“If you don’t want to take school seriously, then I guess I’ll look forward to seeing you working your shift at McDonald’s when I stop by for the fries”. This is what my mom told me when I was an eighth grader. My parents are very accomplished people; my mother is a registered nurse and my father is a lawyer. So her words cut deep and hit me where it hurt. Why was she telling me this? Because I deserved every bit of it.
I was at a point in my life when I was very immature. I was a bad egg, a wannabe “cool kid”, and a class clown.
I used to be a small kid, but I grew taller way before others in my own age group. So after a while, my self-esteem rose back to its normal height and I became used to being the biggest kid in my class. This followed me all through middle school.
When I was an eighth grader, I took advantage of this and used the size of my body to inflict fear in other students. Not only did I utilize my height as a fear factor, but also I imposed dread with the people I hung around. I was what is described as a “tomboy”, and I was friends with guys that I would use as threats to get what I desired from others. I was a bully. My school was quite loose with the bullying policy, so every time I got in trouble, I would weasel myself out of the situation by getting my friends to bear false witness to my fabricated stories.
By the middle of the school year, it seemed like I was more feared than adored by most of my fellow students. This should have sickened me, but instead it gave me a twisted sense of pride. The school district was ready to suspend me. Not only was I making my fellow classmates uncomfortable, but it was now affecting my academics. And ever since I first learned the meaning of the word “important”, my parents have hounded into my head that academics are crucial to my future; academics determine your future existence. What kind of reputation was I leaving for the Michaels family name? As soon as I would leave middle school and enter high school, my brother would be entering middle school. He didn’t deserve to cross the threshold of elementary to middle school with a bad reputation waiting for him.
On the days I was in a better mood, I would let my poor friend choice control me and I would walk around with my “friends” and skip class. Even when I did go to class, I would show up to class late. I lived fairly far from school, so I had to take the bus to school. Both of my parents worked early; by the time I had to wake up for school, they were on their way out and headed to work. This meant that if I chose not to go to school I could stay home. Even if I was late and missed the bus, I had no way to get to school. Now, not only did I have a chance of getting suspended or even expelled for bullying, but also because of my poor attendance. And because I was rarely in class, my grades were suffering, lowering my GPA and almost making it harder to graduate and move on into high school. And this was quite ironic, considering that I had always been known as a bright child before this charade began.
With all the stress of strenuous work and a full schedule, my father now also had to worry about what was going on with me. And it was safe to say that I had always been what is known as a “daddy’s girl”, so this extremely discomforted him. He was constantly receiving phone calls from school teachers and counselors, constantly having to take days off of work to have parent/teacher meetings. All of this was driving my father insane, emotional-wise. He was at a breaking point. It was only after he told me that if I was going to waste his time and so much of his feelings going to school only to act insubordinate, then I should at least have the decency to tell him forthrightly. He went back to school as a middle-aged man to pursue his dream of being a lawyer because when he was younger he did not have the opportunity. My father is essentially a walking illustration of the American Dream, and I cannot believe that at that point in time I could not see that.
It was these words that put me in a very doleful state of mind. After that talk from my father, I actually took the time to sit down and evaluate the things I was doing and how they were going to affect me and the family I love. It was the summer before my first year of high school that I broke down and did nothing but cried. Cried because of the position I put my parents in, the way I made them look, the way I made them feel. Cried because my parents abandoned the life they had in their native land to migrate to this beautiful country, to strive for the American dream.
My dad left his family at the age of 22 and my mother at age 19 and they endured the many turn-downs they got while trying to obtain a visa. They arrived in a place thousands of miles from home, where the language was foreign, the money was different and the people were prejudiced. He was often put down because of the color of his skin, but he was determined to start a life in the U.S. and determined to give his kids the life he never had. And here I was, throwing it all away because of my negligence and my immaturity. I could not live with myself knowing I was discounting my parents’ struggles, all of their hopes and dreams.
From that point on, I made it my goal to never make my parents go through something like that ever again. To this day I can say that I have been true to my word. Everything about me has been a complete 180 degrees from the person I was in middle school. The people I call my friends, the way I think, and even the way I dress have changed. They now reflect the person I am today: all of my hopes and achievements.