How Being Called Stupid Taught me to Thrive


When I was 16 I had to take geometry. I have visual perception problems so I struggled a lot. I almost failed and wouldn’t have been able to go to college. I was able to get an outside tutor who instantly knew my problems went deeper than math. I’ll never forget the first session with her. “You’re not bad at geometry. You need help, yes, but you’re better than you think. What happened to you?” I recalled the painful word I’d been called: stupid. I told her everything. I don’t know why, but I felt like I’d known her my whole life and she wouldn’t judge me. After I stopped crying she said, “Look at me. You are NOT stupid. You are very smart and together we’re going to get your grade up. You are NOT failing. Do you believe me?” I did. She made me tell my parents what I’d told her when they came to pick me up. They were furious. She and I met multiple times a week and I slowly started to get better at geometry. My first test, after starting tutoring, I got a 95% on. An A. I was so happy and relieved. I called my dad, at work, and Margaret (at home). Full disclosure: I’m the daughter of an engineer. My dad is really good at math. His mind is very technical. My mind is not technical.

I went out into the hallway out of the cafeteria where the payphones were. I caught the bus to go home, after staying a little late to let my teacher grade my test, elated. I wasn’t stupid. I would and could do this. My teacher was wrong. My confidence was coming back and she didn’t know who she was dealing with: a literal miracle who had been underestimated before. I just needed extra help and to remember who I was. At the bus lane: I ran into one of my guy friends who is now my chosen brother. He took one look at my face and said, “You look like you are supposed to…happy and glowing.” I can’t imagine why that is. It’s not like I just got a 95% on our geometry test from today or anything. I have nothing to be happy about at all. He stepped right in front of me. “You’re serious?” I nodded my head furiously. Yup, I’m very serious! “That’s fantastic! I told you you could do it.” I know. I just needed help and to believe I could. He gave me a high five and a tight hug.

Margaret helped me believe in myself and taught the skills needed to succeed at my worse subject. I believe God puts people in our lives when we need them. I believe there are angels among us, too. Margaret is proof of both to me. I love you so much! She also follows this blog. Publicly: Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Thank you for what you continue to do for me and all those you teach, now. You were born to be a teacher. I love and miss you! You’re one of my angels.

Is my friend who celebrated at the bus lane with me still in my life, you ask? Yes, very much so. We’re family, now, though. He celebrates every time something spectacular happens in my life. He listens to me cry and yell when I have a bad day or week, too. I do the same for him. We pray for each other. It’s he, I, and the rest of my chosen family, together. Together…we can get through anything we need to. God brought him to me too as well as the rest of my chosen family. God knew I couldn’t possibly thrive alone. I never have to. This blog exists because Margaret, B, and the rest of my chosen family think I can fly if I just get out of my own way. That’s what being called stupid did for me, ultimately; taught me to fight and thrive through the worst circumstances. I hope this blog post reminds y’all to do so as well.

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