The years of my childhood & adolescence could be compared to the percussion section of a marching band. My peers played with their xylophones; I shocked & scared them with the “clang” of my brass cymbals. Teachers would sound their theories with the steady tap of their snare drums. They jumped from the “bang” of my base drum. All of their sounds made an eclectic performance throughout the beginning of my life.
It began in the beginning-kindergarten. I was physically attacked by a bully on a regular basis. The teachers could or would do nothing to stop the assault. One elementary teacher labeled me as a “Special Ed. Case” when I could not finish the written assignments. Cootie Shots came and went leaving me the brunt of all jokes. I tried to join the xylophones, but my cymbals would sound without warning. One of them invited me for a play date and came to pick me up. She sat in the back seat so I would sit next to her. I could not hear the beat so I sat in the front next to her father. Everyone seemed to catch a punch line, and I was left without a tambourine.
Sixth grade would come and find me in the principal’s office on a daily-weekly basis due to being off tune with fellow classmates. Shortly thereafter I would be swallowed by the unwelcome crescendo. That summer my parents divorced and I moved into another school district. Would seventh grade have me marching to a new set of rhythm sticks?
I thought I played it safe with a permanent and Shirley Temple Sailor Suit for the first day of school. Instead I came out as a Midget Size-It Ronald McDonald who fell off the “Good Ship Lollipop.” A year later I was dubbed a stalker for telling a boy that I liked him.
Throughout the beginning of high school, I was stomping into everyone else’s rhythm. If someone called me fat, I labeled them and anyone they ever met fatter. If I was provoked in any way, I would lash out until the day I marched into the goalpost. She threw a snowball at my head. In return she was slugged in the aforementioned place with my book bag. This was a basketball player who had three feet over me. I woke up three feet from where I had hit her.
The teachers were no better. Some of them even played their favorite beats. When the football captain or head cheerleader needed the bathroom they got a smile and nod. My request for the same amenities could be compared to a request for the Hand of Midas. The teachers did not understand me, the students did not understand me, and I did not understand me.
Finally I was given a chance to hear the other areas of percussion. I moved away from parents and public school life and was placed into a boarding family with six of their own children. Private school taught me to hear the beat of others. My new home taught me how to hear my own. I still clashed my cymbals or smashed my base drum, but this time it brought music to the ears of others.
After high school when I attended a year of study overseas, I began to hear the world. The world heard me back. I learned what was right and what was so wrong. I learned it was okay to have likes others would not share. It was okay to believe something was right though many would disagree. This I believe: March to the beat of your own drum. Others will continue to play their xylophones and tap their snares. Together with base drum and cymbals, I shall clash with them in unity.
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