A Change Of Life
Mike Rose, in “I Just Wanna Be Average,” writes about his memories of school and how he remembers students and teachers. Rose discusses the reasons that students struggle with school. He tells us about the kids around him, when he was in school, and shows us why they didn’t do well in school—they were disturbed by their peers and their hormones, and they were afraid. He says, they “daydreamed to avoid their inadequacies” (22-23). One thing that he says in his essay, reminded me of myself—he explains him sitting in the classroom staring out the window and watching the teacher draw the lines on the board. After reading Mike Rose’s story about his school and how he was scared, I remembered the time that I was a kid and I was scared of going to school and how I reacted to it. Reading about the students’ struggle with school reminded me of me. I am from Iran. Schooling is different in my country. I have had an experience that I would never forget. Coming to America had changed my life.
I was always scared when I heard things about school. I heard from kids who were my neighbors that teachers were mean and school was a scary place. I had a hard time concentrating on school and homework—I really didn’t have anyone from the beginning to tell me what school really was. School was a kind of a place for me that I thought I would die. I was not able to go to school sometimes because I was scared of going in there, I would get sick because I had to go and get yelled at because I was not paying attention. Not paying attention was not really my fault. I could not stand school. I could not stand teachers who just wanted to teach and leave.
My story starts when I was 6 years old, I was in Iran then. My father was going away for a long time— my mother said that he would come back but he never did. I remember the first day of school. I had to go by myself even without my mother. I was scared, as soon as I walked in there I started to feel afraid. As I saw other children with their parents, I really wanted my father to be there for me. Someone who could hold my hands and take me inside my class and show me around and tell me what school is all about. Well he was not there, I had to go myself. I was scared of everything inside my school. The teachers, the principle, the students, they all scared me. As I grew up my fear didn’t go away. Every year I would have the same fear of going to school.
When I went to elementary school, I started being alone and not having friends. I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want to go to school at all; I was in my little world, not having my father at my side really hurt me and I couldn’t concentrate in school at all. School was a different world for me since the teacher didn’t care what was wrong with me. They would just come in and tell us what they expected us to do and leave. I hated school since I started; I hated the entire teachers because they didn’t even care about you. The principle, you couldn’t even talk to her. Let’s say you were sitting in the class and not even paying attention to the teacher, she would come to me and hit me with the long ruler on my hands and then throw me out of the classroom. Do you think that is fair for a nine years old girl?
As I grew up and went to high school my expectation of school was just to do your work and go home. School was no fun for me. Sometimes I really wanted to be like those student’s who have fun and everyone loves them. No one loved me and didn’t want to know why I am always quiet. I would sit in the classroom and think about the first day and how I reacted to it. I would laugh at myself thinking why would I be in this place that no one likes me. I would think about when I had no one to come with me ant tell me “don’t be afraid everything would be fine”. I would think for hours and hours thinking when I get out of here.
Have you ever had a day when you just cried? Not because anything bad happened, not because of pain, anger or grief. Have you every just had a day that you just felt overwhelmed, unable to identify the source? A day when a couple of tears fell but you couldn’t exactly trace their origins? That day was one of those days for me. I sat in the empty classroom and a million thoughts entered my mind. I thought about days that I had every day, my father, school, teachers, and students. Then all of a sudden my face was wet. My first reaction was surprise—followed by relief that I was actually alone in the school. I couldn’t imagine how much I hated school. I tried to convince myself, talk to myself, but it was not helping. I decided that I would never ever go back. I thought maybe I could hide it from my mother but no, I couldn’t hide anything from her.
Mike Rose in “I Just Wanna Be Average” tells us about his father, who died of a simple nick on his shin that wouldn’t heal. He explained how he saw his father in his dreams—sometimes in the house or in an empty street (31-32). This is the way I was, even though my father was alive but he was not with me—I would see him in my dreams. I explained it to my mother that I would sit in the class and just look at the blackboard the entire period. I always look out of the window to find something—to find my father. That’s when she decided to move from Iran to get to my father. Then we moved to Pakistan to find refuge to go to America.
After living in Pakistan for about four years, we moved to America as a refuge. I was 18 years old but I hadn’t finished high school yet. Guess what? I had to go to school to get my diploma. When I heard school, my heartbeat was going faster and the fear that I was actually older than high school kids adds to my fears. I walked into the school, oh my god, totally different than school in Iran. I talked to one of the teachers who was a teacher for E.S.L (English As Second Language) students. I remember myself sweating and shaking while I was waiting for her to come inside. We had a long talk; she gave me a chance to try and choose my own classes and told me that I was smart. I didn’t know any English then, but after a while I started learning English and doing much better in school. One day as I was getting ready for school, I looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself if that was really me. I was changed I really loved school. Everyone would talk to me if had a problem, they would help me to get better in my math. I could not believe it that I had no fear whatsoever. I got involved with lots of activities in school. My teacher even helped me to learn how to use a computer.
When I think about my past life and the present life, I see the differences. I know now that I didn’t really hate school but I was alone and scared, just like Mike Rose and his life. He was alone after his father died. Rose talks about a teacher, Jack MacFarlane, who was really close to him and talks with him in every problem. Once Rose said “he could have come to my life at a better time” (32). I think he meant that he wished he was there when he needed some like a father. He needed someone to be there for him, so he can be strong. I felt the same way. I had no one to tell me the right from wrong. I learned that I was the only one who could get rid of the fear in me. I was myself; it was me who was successful in everything. Now I am going to college to become someone who can help others who felt like me and tell them who they really are. Many of us in this school are from different countries and have different cultures. Schooling is different in different countries. Remembering how you felt in the first day of school might not scare you anymore but for some people it’s a memory that they always remember.
Rose, Mike. “I
just Wanna Be Average.” Lives On The Boundary. New York: Penguin,