What It’s Like Currently Being a Student in America

I’ve grown up in a post-Columbine world. The talk of school shootings is not something new to me, I’ve been taught how to prepare for one my whole life. I’ve spent hours siting in dark classrooms, huddled in the corner with my classmates praying it’s only a drill. As of February, there have been a total of 18 school shootings in 2018. The latest, taking place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people.

As a current student, this terrifies me. Many days I wake up wondering if I could be next. I’ve made action plans for every classroom I go to, in case I find myself in an active shooter situation. When I see students walking with their hands in a hoodie, I wonder if they’re concealing a gun. When I hear screaming in the hallway, I immediately think “where should I hide?” The worst part about all of this is that it is a preventable issue, yet our government just won’t do anything to prevent it.

I don’t want to be the next victim of a school shooting. I don’t want to see my classmates be victims of a school shooting. I don’t want to see anymore children die in school a shooting. We’re required by law to go to school from the time we turn five until we graduate from high school, and yet we are not safe there. I may now be in college, and have made the decision to be in school, but I still deserve to be safe. No students will be safe until we have gun control, and no students will be safe until our government stops taking money from the NRA.

It is not too soon, now is the time to talk about this. April 20th, 1999 was the time to talk about gun control, December 14th, 2012 was the time to talk about gun control, February 14th, 2018 was the time to talk about gun control, and yet we didn’t. We’ve become so numb as a nation that we get over mass tragedy is a few weeks. We don’t even remember the details of all the recent shootings, because there have been so many. The victims of these horrific acts of violence deserve to be remembered. They deserve justice, and that can only come when we, as a nation, make sure this never happens again. People my age and younger, like Emma Gonzalez, are having to step up and lead a movement. Children, and people who are barely adults, should not have to constantly tell grown-ups that our lives are worth more than your right to own an automatic weapon.

 

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Getting My GED

I finally bit the bullet and took all four of my GED tests!

I had studied off and on since January, but I knew I was stalling and needed to go ahead and get it done. Honestly I was just really afraid of failing.  When I was studying it wasn’t that hard, but I thought it would be really embarrassing to fail a test that’s supposed to be easy.

I took the social studies portion on May 2nd and passed with flying colors. Then I took the math test and the science test on May 9th, which were the ones I was most nervous about. Luckily I also did really well and overall it wasn’t very hard. Finally I took the English test yesterday. I’ve always done well in English and aced all of my state mandated English tests, so I wasn’t worried about this one at all. I could have done them all in one day, but with my chronic illnesses I didn’t think that would be a good idea. They allow you so much time to test, and I wasn’t sure how much I would actually take so splitting them up seemed like the best choice. I passed them all as college ready which was really exciting, and I was one point away from getting college credit on the science portion. 

I’m so so happy to be done with the high school portion of my life! I honestly can’t express enough how much this is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m done with high school… early. Yes a GED isn’t as good as an actual high school diploma, but back in the fall I wasn’t so sure I was going to be able to even get this done before the Summer began. Now all I need is my license and I can start taking college classes at my local community college in the fall! The situation may not be ideal, but I’m choosing to celebrate the win and look forward to getting my life back on track.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Why are you here?: Chronically Misunderstood

This one is going to be a bit of a back story, but I’ll make it quick. At the time I in high school and it was my freshman year. The school I went to really didn’t like that I was absent a lot and made me jump through a lot of hoops in order to “make up my time.” This had happened for the past two years I was in middle school as well, but their obsession with me being in school makes this story funny to me. Also at this time doctors thought I had abdominal migraines also known as cyclical vomiting syndrome.

I walked into school late and went to check in  before heading to class. Normally I would go to my house office, but the secretary at the front desk stopped me and asked me my name. When I told her who I was she looked me up in the computer system which I thought was odd. I had come into school late a lot and no one ever questioned me. Normally I just went to the office, got a note, and was on my way.

The lady started to look really confused and said, “you aren’t supposed to be here.” I didn’t know what to say to that. Here I am at school, specifically at a school that get’s very angry when I’m absent yet this lady is telling me I’m not supposed to be here? “You’ve been counted absent for the whole day,” she told me. I responded with, “I don’t know why, I didn’t tell anyone I was going to be gone all day.”

She furiously tapped away on the computer and I just stood there throughly confused. She walked away into the main office and came back looking relieved. She exclaims, rather loudly I might add, ” OH YOU’RE STOMACH MIGRAINE GIRL!” I guess I had developed a reputation. “Yeah…” I replied trying not to laugh. For some reason being stomach migraine girl made everything okay and she let me go on my way. I’m still honestly not sure what that situation was all about, but it was funny nonetheless.

Tell me a funny or weird story about your high school experience!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Being on Your Own Timeline

In the U.S. and especially in the suburbs there’s a pattern to life that your assumed to follow.

Graduate high school, go straight away to a University, graduate college in four years, get your first job, get married, have kids, etc.

I was raised to believe this is the only way to be successful in life, but after having my life interrupted by chronic illness and having to pave a different path for myself I’ve learned just how wrong that is. Everyone does things at their own pace; some people aren’t mature enough to go to college straight out of high school or can’t financially make ends meet so they have to work before going to school. For other people college just isn’t the right choice for them, or they choose to go back to school later in life.

While I am definitely pro-education and believe, given the opportunity, you should obtain as much education as possible, I can see that there are situations that can make that difficult or near impossible. You don’t have to have life figured out at 22, or even your own life figured out.

While there’s always going to be a lot of external pressure to follow a certain timeline, only you can know what’s best for yourself. Right now it’s best for me to be out of high school while I pursue my GED and get my health on track, to other people the decisions I’ve made may not be what they think is right, but I don’t believe you can speak to experiences you haven’t had.

Every time I meet someone new there’s always a million questions about school and extra curricular’s. I don’t feel the need to tell my sob story to everyone I meet so I often tell them the town I live in and let them make their own assumptions. Occasionally I’ll tell people the things I used to do when I was in school without mentioning I don’t go there anymore, but that’s normally when I’m uncomfortable with all the questions and feel like I’m being judged.

It’s crazy how narrow minded people can be. I try to put myself in other peoples shoes and examine situations from all aspects the best that I can. There isn’t one correct way to live life and I think this plan we’ve created as a society and seem to believe everyone should follow to a T can be really detrimental. You’re not a failure if your life doesn’t look like the majority of your peers, friends, or family members. You also don’t have to have the same dreams and goals as everyone around you.

Be yourself and do things on your own timeline!

Alyssa

Continuing Education

I’m setting a date to take my GED.

If you aren’t aware, I dis-enrolled from high school back in November and have been navigating what I’m going to do ever since then. After trying online high school, it not going well, and having a the biggest fight I’ve ever had with my parents, I’m finally going to take my GED test like we had planned all along. Since I’m only seventeen I had to get approved from the state, and I was approved yesterday morning so things are starting to get in place!

I’ve been studying a little bit here and there over the last few weeks and I don’t think passing it will be a problem. I’ve always done really well in school, and the GED test is supposed to be pretty easy. I’m still going to continue to study up until my test day because unexpectedly failing would be quite embarrassing.

I feel like this is a step in the right direction, even though it makes me really sad. I never wanted to leave high school, but this is the only way for me to move on and continue my education. I want to start some college courses over the summer, so I need to get my GED and then my license and I’ll be set. I guess hard decisions are part of “becoming an adult,” and I should get used to them. It’s definitely not the end of the world, it’s just a major disappointment. The burden and stigma of being a “high school drop-out” and a GED holder could set me back in my career which makes me nervous.

This is the right decision for me and I feel good about that. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, researching it, and talking about it with my family. Now I just want it to be over with so I can move on.

How was your high school experience?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

School & Sunglasses: Chronically Misunderstood

This one is inspired by Chronically Dannie. She wrote about her high school violating her privacy, and it brought back this memory I had stored away.

The way high school is set up in my town is we have a freshman center and then a high school for 10-12 grade. Our school is huge and everyone couldn’t fit in the main high school, so freshman had their own building. The administration at the freshman center were super uptight, and were know-it-alls, hence this situation.

If you aren’t familiar with what a 504 plan is read this. I had a meeting about my 504 plan and accommodations, it went fine, they couldn’t come up with very many solutions or things to help me, but that wasn’t a new situation at this point. The next week my mom emailed them to follow up on some plans, and the 504 coordinator responded by telling her she had a new idea. She said I was going to be required to wear sunglasses while at school. WTF? I never wear sunglasses inside and when we told her I wasn’t gonna do that she said, “well my kids who have concussions do it and it helps them, so you should do it.”  She was taken back by the idea that I wouldn’t do that.

Wow I had no idea she had such an extensive background in medicine. Thanks Dr. Web-MD! I’ve never had a concussion and sunglasses aren’t gonna help my migraines, plus do I really need to stick out more? I was already “that girl who’s gone all the time,” I didn’t need to add “sunglasses girl” to the mix. I appreciate her trying to do something, but this wasn’t helpful, and the way she came across also didn’t make the situation better. Also, in what world can you make someone wear sunglasses inside? Definitely not the one I live in!

This just in, sunglasses cure migraines. I guess being in pain was completely avoidable all this time. This also wasn’t the last time that someone told me wearing sunglasses would “cure” my migraines. It’s funny now, but I still think it’s really odd. Have you had any weird experiences or “cures” offered to you due to chronic illness?

Lots of Love,

(and absolutely no sunglasses)

Alyssa

 

Miniskirt Misogyny

 

When I was in sixth grade we had a “girls only” assembly to talk about dress code. Before this time it had never been explained to me that the reason we have a dress code is so girls “don’t distract the boys” with our bodies. This infuriated me, and still does. Why is their eduction more important than mine? Why are girls pulled out of class for thirty minutes, because a boy may be distracted by their legs or shoulder blades? More importantly, why is it that boys “can’t control themselves” and girls are shamed for them acting pigs?

I am not a sexual object for just existing as a female. The few times I’ve caught guys staring at me, or making inappropriate comments I’ve felt violated. I don’t exist for your pleasure, and I’m not just something pretty to look at. Now my spit fire attitude and just generally being a lesbian has protecting me from the bulk of the suggestive comments or stares that most girls get. I have a major case of resting bitch face, and overall don’t always look “approachable.” Needless say I haven’t experienced this kind of behavior of men often, but I have had friends who’ve dealt with this a lot.

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Clothing is a form of self-expression. High school is supposed to be a time where you began to “find yourself,” but how can you do that if how you dress or color your hair is constantly being policed. If you find it liberating to wear short skirts and low cut tops, then do it. If you prefer to dress conservatively, then wear the clothes that make you feel comfortable. Showing off your body is not a bad thing, and it doesn’t define you as a person.  A woman is either perceived as a prude if she dresses “too conservatively” or a slut if she shows off her body. But yet society teaches young girls that men want women to show off their bodies. So does she show off her body and get called a slut, or cover up and supposedly get ignored by men? You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

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Wearing a provocative outfit doesn’t mean a girl is “asking for it.” Assault is assault; it doesn’t matter what the victim is wearing. We need to stop blaming the victims, and start examining the subliminal messages our society sends to us about women’s worth. When a girl tells you she’s been molested or raped, your first response shouldn’t be to ask “what were you wearing”, or “were you drinking?” Consent is necessary in all situations, and clothing does not equal consent.

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As much as I which I could still be in high school, I don’t miss the dress code, or the passive aggressive “slut shaming” assemblies. At least I can wear nike shorts and a t-shirt in my own house without being called a whore. I guess chronic illness does have some perks after all. 😉

Lots of Love,

Alyssa