Layer 5: Education – Example 1
From a very early age, I had a difficult relationship with formal education. As far back as kindergarten I struggled to pay attention or comply with the rigid structure and formality of school. At three separate times in my life, I was tested for Attention Deficit Disorder, and was always told that my results neither indicated complete normalcy, nor a serious deficiency. By middle school, I had been prescribed Ritalin, which I continued to take up until the 11th grade.
Being diagnosed as on the cusp of a disorder meant that I was held to the same standards as my peers without receiving any extra support that might help fill the gap between my performance and that of other students. I felt stigmatized, by the testing, by my teachers’ reactions to my disinterest in school, and by having to go to the nurse’s office every day to take medication. It left an impression on me that I was different, or somehow less capable than other students.
I didn’t start to perform well in any formal educational setting until I reached college. By then, I could pursue topics that interested me, which stoked my motivation, but I still struggled to stay focused. I have maintained an inner narrative for my entire life that for me to succeed, it takes more effort than it may take other people, and sometimes that perceived difference encourages me to refrain from trying to succeed or excel. The cycle I still, to this day, get caught in is that I believe I won’t succeed, and therefor give less effort, and subsequently achieve mediocre results, which confirms my suspicions that I am less capable and less smart as my peers. I’ve been cultivating this narrative for years. When I resisted the rigidity of school, the feedback I received was that there might be something wrong with me, but nothing so serious that I need outside help, and now I still hesitate to talk about my lack of motivation, and still feel less-than whenever I am faced with tasks that don’t inspire me.