Dedicated to my mother
|I have sought help from a lot of places ranging from therapists to schools. Choosing to either stay with these support systems or abandon them and never return has always been a significant role in my life. I tend to rush into things with blind optimism, much as I did with Orthogenic and CIP.
I didn't want to go to Orthogenic in the first place. My mom enrolled me in the therapeutic K-12 school because she thought it was a better choice than leaving me in a public high school tailored for the average student. I wanted to attend Lincoln-Way East along with my peers from middle school, but my mom figured it would be too much pressure for me to handle. I believed I would get nothing out of Orthogenic, especially since I was a day school student and had fewer opportunities than the residential students. I eventually learned to love my time there, however. I feel like I experienced more from attending Orthogenic than I would have at Lincoln-Way East. I made plenty of meaningful friends and accomplishments. I felt like I belonged there.
Then, during my sophomore year, everyone was bulldozed into this new building. The new building wasn't the only change that overwhelmed me to the point of nausea. There were a lot of staff changes due to some staff members leaving and the administrator going on maternity leave. We also got a lot of new students, which wouldn't have been a big deal to me if I weren't so insecure. Part of that insecurity came from my friends also changing right before my eyes; some of them acted like completely different people. It felt as if I was losing everything, and I blindly swatted at and hissed at everyone around me to get it all back. While no one ever implied that I chose to be a bully (at least none of the staff did), no one bothered to ask what was wrong. Instead, I would get dragged out of the classroom and have another incident added to my report. I understand that I was dangerous to my peers when I acted as such, but the real problem never was just me. I don't know how my mom figured out that Orthogenic no longer worked for me, but I'm grateful she did. If it weren't for her, I might not have even graduated from high school.
After graduating high school, I began my college career at CIP, a residential support program for struggling students near Indiana University. Unlike Orthogenic, I believed this program was a miracle from the start. I excelled to an extent. I was ahead of my peers academically and in terms of living on my own. I experienced peak independence; I paid my repair bills, walked to the grocery store on my own, and even called an Uber for the first time. I also joined Indiana University's anime club, which was a fun experience where I could be myself.
Nothing could save me from the downsides, though. I had almost no friends, excluding the plump grey and white cat at the local art supply store. I felt alienated by my peers because I preferred to attend downtown gallery walks and volunteer events than play video games. I felt like I was being kept from opportunities at times because the staff often told me I was not stable enough to partake in them. I didn't listen to them, though; I held on to these opportunities as if they would magically change my life. While I did resent how they talked down to me without asking for my perspective first, I still stayed with them because I felt that they knew what was best for me. It turns out I was never more wrong. My mom knew what I needed better than the staff there, meaning she made the right choice to pull me out of that program.
Since then, I have learned to pay more attention to what I need. Back during those times, I had lost a lot of self-respect from fooling myself into believing I was where I needed to be. I never want that to happen to me again.