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Why I Was Quiet At School

Updated on February 22, 2011

Nobody could have been more shy than I

To begin with, I was quite the feisty brat. If I didn’t get my way at home, I threw an impressive tantrum, complete with choking sounds and induced burps. My two older brothers were much bigger than I, but this only taught me to fight harder for what I thought was mine. In grade school, nobody ever beat me when we were running to class from recess.

I was even a little forward, though I didn’t know it: In the first grade, the girl behind me put the toe of her shoe between by backrest and the folding seat I was sitting on. This softly pinched my behind,
and it felt like some type of soothing reflexological therapy, though that isn’t the term that came into my mind then. So I turned around and invited the little girl to "pinch my bum" some more, because it felt good.

In the second and third grades, I had my friends, and I walked home with them from time to time. A bully attacked my friend one day, and I fought him off with my own wrestling techniques.

In the eighth grade, a boy on a bike pushed my sister into the fence as he rode past. I was in front of my sister, and I just happened to see the push. So as the boy rode past me, I went to push him, but only caught part of his bike. He got off his bike, came nose-to-nose with me and told me to never touch his bike again. I reached around him and touched the bike again, saying, “Like this?”

After another more angry threat, I said, “If you won’t push my sister, then maybe I won’t touch your bike.”

So . . . . something happened that turned me into a mouse after that.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I think I know what it was. And it wasn’t
an “it,” but a “they.”

The first one was my ability to draw pictures: After I learned I could render about anything I wanted, and as I reached the age of curiosity, I found I could put my fantasies down on paper. I didn’t have to sneak any peeks at the local magazine stand. While doing this, I was convinced that I was the only boy from a religious family that was sinning. Everybody else was being good, and they were as righteous as sunshine. So down went my self-esteem.

The second thing was the fact that we were poor. I wore my clothes and shoes until they fell off of me. I seldom had new shoes, because my father repaired my old ones. When peers laughed at my clothes and not-so-white underwear in the gym-class shower room, I became more introverted.

Next, I had bad breath. I had a disease that caused the gums to swell up and bleed. The blood and the food trapped underneath them caused a smell to rival that of the outhouse I once used daily. You could see a very small portion of my front teeth because of the swelling. This was fixed when I found a dentist that addressed the problem, but by then the condition had already done its work on my self-esteem.

Fourth, I was a dummy, and really stupid. Well, let me re-phrase that: I was allergic to foods of nearly all types. And what, you ask, does that have to do with being stupid?

Ever since I can remember, I often found myself in the doctor’s office with my mother as the nurses poked two rows of tiny holes in each arm, then swabbed them with a solution. After a time I can’t rightly measure, the doctor gave my mother a list of the things I was allergic to: Things with wheat or egg white in them, some fruits, and certain plants or herbs, to name just a few. If I abstained from eating these things, I would stop having hives the size of my father’s eye glasses, and my stuffy nose might clear up. (Oh, that was another thing: I drove my teachers crazy by sniffing all the time, until one of them hit me on the head with her book in front of the class and told me to go blow my nose.)

To make a long story short, my parents ended up sending me to the doctor for weekly injections, because we couldn’t find much food that didn’t have those ingredients. I was also taking pills daily.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that medication turned me into a zombie, and my learning curve took a dive straight downward. It was after I got back from my military tour in Vietnam that I discovered the effects of the medication. In Vietnam, I was sweating everything out of me, so I didn’t have hives, and I wasn’t taking medication. When I got back and the hives returned, the newly-administered pills threw me for a loop! I felt three times as heavy, and had no drive at all! It was a strain to use my mind. So I began to search out and imitate the conditions I experienced in Vietnam to rid myself of the toxins, or whatever was causing the hives. It turns out that I needed to sweat everything out of my system. (That story is in another hub I wrote.)

Meanwhile, though, during my school days, as I dragged my way through the years, I became convinced that I was a dummy. This was confirmed when a seventh-grade Language Arts teacher called me a dummy in front of the class and put me where the dummies sat.

Now here is my final reason for being shy, and it is the most powerful element in this story: A little dark-haired girl. Charlie Brown had his “little red-headed girl” that caused him to tense up, and become totally inept at interacting with her. Well, I had my little dark-haired girl that did the same thing.

A few important things happened in my life that caused me to adore and worship this girl. I need not elaborate the details here, only the fact that she had a significant effect on me. In addition, these thoughts thundered, unwelcome, in my mind when she came around: “Uh, oh! Here comes the little dark-haired girl. What should I say to her? My mind is racing too much to think, now. Well, I’d better not say anything, because if I open my mouth, she’ll smell my bad breath. If she looks at me long enough, she’ll see my ragged clothes and then class me with the hobos (I know! I misjudged her character by supposing this!). If I say something, she’ll find out how dumb I am. If she happens to glimpse into my soul by looking into my eyes, she’ll see what a decadent sinner I am!”

This attitude and these fears spilled over to my other acquaintances in a lesser way; the silencing of my personality and soul were so strong, that I just became that person.

So I just shut down, and was always “a good boy” in school and in church. I had learned to build up a strong facade to guard my image. In doing so, I didn’t find many friends. Those and others around me never got to know the real “Sammy.”

In fact, I may have made a few enemies by imitating other people, and not being genuine. I did this, because I had no confidence in the real me. Looking back, I now realize that I acted like others; I pretended knowing what they learned in their field, even though my experience or hobbies were different. I also unwittingly imitated their annoying traits as well.

I didn’t get married until I was 27. I had been to Vietnam and back, and attended school. I was just barely becoming the real me, but bits and pieces of my habits took a long time to die off, which thing can make life a little tough, but fighting the tough things contributes to growth. Now, you’re lookin’ at someone a little more genuine.

You may be interested in knowing about my scholarly achievements after I detoxified my body: After my original career became obsolete, I found it necessary to go back to school. As I registered for classes I thought to myself: “Is the same thing going to happen? Am I really a dummy?”

But in the end, I got all straight A’s except for my last class, which was a B (I got a little careless). But I went away happy, feeling a lot better about myself.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, much exercise and racquetball (or sauna rooms) helped me to get rid of enough garbage in my body to eliminate the need for pills and debilitating medications. Hopefully, if you have a child that has excessive allergies, this article (and the one I wrote about scratching mosquito bites) will help you avoid the heartbreak of watching your child plummet into a dark life of misery and low income.


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    • SamboRambo profile image

      Samuel E. Richardson 6 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      When he discovered I was defending my sister, he backed off. I don't think he knew I was her brother. I think people sense that it would be a risky business to stay in the fight when you've threatened the honor of a woman, even if they're a girl.

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Sambo, you had me cheering when you confronted that bully on the bike. I have to admit I'm a little ape-headed and need to be led. Did the bully beat you into a pulp or did he leave or did you pound him into the ground?

      The second part of this hub really resonates with me. I definitely didn't have it as bad as you did, no one ever yelled at me for sniffling, (although one of the kids did call me snufaluffakus), and I didn't have bad breath. But my home life was pretty bad, and with low self esteem, my outside life was miserable too. Strangely, like you, I started out well.

      I feel I am not out of the pit completely yet, but I do not quit fighting. I am glad to see you made it and glad you shared this part of your life.