beginnings and endings

The worst part of a new beginning is the final ending. Some beginnings have no end; some endings follow no true beginning.

I was a struggling English student throughout my education. Somewhere between the beginning of elementary and ending of intermediate school, the struggles I dealt with grew incrementally. I was even placed in a Reading class in 7th grade while many of my friends went into honors classes. Reading class was only for those who were struggling and was not required.

While it made me feel rather stupid, I knew I could easily make A’s in this class. There was no way I would struggle that much in a class of people I considered to be below me intellectually.

I was wrong.

I was more in tune with books as a kid, reading many which I remember enjoying. Even today I can recall various visual scenes I made up in my mind for some of the stories. However, the last time I really remember enjoying a book while in public education was in 8th grade. I vaguely remember reading certain stories which were mildly entertaining. It wouldn’t be long now.

By high school, I knew I wasn’t going to excel in this area of study. The required readings I was forced to commit to in English classes never satisfied me. Unfortunately for my education, my lust for video games had set in. Sitting still to comprehend static text was not even a passing thought if I wasn’t reminded.

I forced myself into the honors English class my freshman year of high school. For two years, I endured this ongoing struggle for several reasons: to be around peers better and smarter than me, to be around those who would challenge me, many of my friends were in these classes, and I needed to challenge myself.

By my junior year, I ended my personal challenge. Sophomore English class killed me, leaving me scarred with three D’s. It was time to end my suffering and take the personal hit. My pride in English, of what I even had left, was pretty much shot. While I didn’t want to let go for so many reasons, and while there are probably many reasons I should have continued this challenge, it was in my best interest to move on.

I tried hard to make it work. My timing wasn’t always great, I procrastinated a lot, and my test scores reflected this. I made mistakes which I wish I hadn’t, but I struggled to change my circumstances. Sadly, I just wasn’t meant to be great at English but I have slowly improved over the years.

It wasn’t a fun choice to leave the honors English track but I needed to make a change that was good for me. I was too stressed being in the same situation again and again and it left me unhappy. Since high school, I gained a huge appreciation for the English language because of my decision. I almost regret not continuing on with honors English but I knew at the time it was right for me.

I don’t always know when the right time for me to let go and move on is but I try my best to make my life work for me. The unintentional endings I’ve experienced through my life have been unfortunate but I’ve grown into a better person because of them. I just hope I know that doing the right thing doesn’t always mean doing the best thing for everyone.

Out of a sad ending will come a beautiful beginning. My improvement and understanding of the English language into my 30’s is proof that it doesn’t need to completely end. It just needed to change, this change allowed me to appreciate it more, and I found a new way to invigorate myself to improve my writing, reading and understanding.

I hope I can apply this lesson throughout the rest of my life.

just sitting here thinking back

My high school reunion is only a couple of years away. This reminds me that I started high school 12 years ago. And I started junior high 14 years ago. And elementary… an eternity ago.

I don’t remember much about my first day of elementary school. I do, however, remember going to class with my mother. We all had to stand in a very long line with other classmates and their mothers and I guess we were giving some papers to the teacher as well as meeting her. I’m sure I was probably scared a little since it was all new to me, but I quickly adapted.

Junior high was different, however, because I had only moved to Houston a year before. In fact, it wasn’t junior high, it was called intermediate school and it started in 7th grade and ended after 8th. Still, I do not remember actually starting intermediate school on the very first day. Probably because there was so much to take in. I had to learn how to get from one class to another whereas elementary was mostly sitting in just one or two classes all day long with the same people. What I should recall pretty easily is my first day of sixth grade, because we had just moved to town that previous summer. Sitting here thinking about it continues to draw me a blank.

High school was once again more complicated. I had been on a scout jamboree to Washington DC and Virginia for a couple of weeks and I was pretty much the only one late to summer band camp for marching practice that August. But it was another big change from intermediate to high school. Bigger building, more kids, everyone’s older than me.

Sometimes these memories seem only months or years back. But, I realize that time is fading a lot of these memories away. New experiences, new first days on the job, new interactions with people, they all continue to fill my mind leaving many other memories out in the dust.

It’s this thought that makes me realize that I need to try and make the most of every day. To actively make memories.

When I was at a band competition my freshman year, we were competing to go to state at the semi-regional finals. We did really well, everyone was pumped, and we were all just sitting in the stands waiting for the results. I was not really hanging out with too many people, so I went down to the bottom of the stands and looked around. Curious, I walked up the stairs towards the announcer’s box to see what was going on. Just a few people chatting with each other. I then remember looking back at my classmates all just playing around, chatting with each other and enjoying themselves as well all nervously waited the results.

Minutes later, the voice of the announcer began. One by one, the top bands were named, cheers, and then repeated each time. I had a feeling about our chance, and I actively stood there watching all of my classmates as they announced our name in first place. What a feeling to know that we were going to state; but what made me feel even better was everyone else cheering and hugging each other. Watching the celebration from the outside brought me so much pleasure. Sorta like I had a hand in the decision and could see how everyone else felt. I’ve always been different like that, stepping in the background to see the reactions. But it’s these memories that stick with me many years after they happen.

Take time out of your day, think about something that makes you happy, and remember that you’re alive. Our experiences and memories are all we have in the end.