Middle school is hard enough; new schedule, new teachers, the introduction to name brands, and makeup. Going to school with that metal head gear on my head? I am very grateful that was not an option. However, going back to my peers with a completely different face, not to mention a terrible haircut (due to my head having to be shaved during procedures), was not easy to do. Not to mention the fact that while I was homeschooled, I did not get an introduction to a new school like they did. I was a 6th grader with a 5th grade mentality trying to keep up with the crowd. It honestly felt like I was gone for more than one school year.
Entering school with my new distinctly different face was difficult. I knew I was different. I was already insecure because I had not only had the RED system on and spent a year waiting for the swelling to go down, but I was missing teeth and facial bone because of some side effects to the surgery.
Towards the end of 6th grade I was teased by a couple girls for my appearance, it was one of the first times that I had experienced being attacked by words and I did not know how to take it. Being insecure and on guard already, I did not take it well. When the school got involved, which surprisingly was not something I chose to do, there was nothing done. That is when I truly realized how unarmed I was to bullies. I felt more isolated and vulnerable than before.
In the seventh grade, we had to do a school project where we had to, as a class, write a bill and present it in front of local government officials and the school principals. I suggested doing an awareness day for craniofacial anomalies. The teacher thought it was a good idea and I was able to educate my class, community, and myself about my condition and similar craniofacial conditions. Not everyone in the class was excited about learning about my condition. Because the project we were doing was such a big deal, our middle school paper wanted to do an article on me and craniofacial anomalies. A girl involved with the paper did not want to publish it because she felt like it wasn’t worthy to be in the paper. I have never been a person who liked to draw attention to myself, so that incident was upsetting, especially since the girl who did not want to publish the article was in my class doing the project. Being a writer for the newspaper myself, I wrote about other people’s special achievements and lives, and having someone say that my story was not worthy was demeaning.
When we ended up presenting in front of local government officials our districts senator John Gleason wanted to actually take the idea to our state government. I was able to be a part of the law making process at 13 years old. At 14, I got to see Jennifer Granholm sign the bill into law designating February Craniofacial Awareness Month in the state of Michigan.
My last year of middle school was pretty uneventful. It was unusual for me to speak in class and when I did it was a surprise to my peers. I had a select few really close friends who I had since elementary school and still have today. I was very cautious as to who I allowed myself to grow close to. Because of my insecurities, I did not think that people would accept me.
Where do insecurities come from? Check my blog tomorrow and I will share my thoughts and feelings.