Shortly before my 18th birthday, during my senior year of high school, I was required to take a series of tests on a Saturday to see if college was the appropriate next step for me. All I remember about that day was being tested in a closed-door room by a man old enough to be my father who kept hitting on me repeatedly. To say I was uncomfortable would be an understatement. If I had been as strong and assertive as I am now, I would have stopped the test, filed a formal sexual harassment complaint, and gone home. Too young to know my rights I didn’t. Pushing through my discomfort I finished the test.
A few weeks later at the meeting to discuss my results, don’t go to college was the assessment. Feelings of two years before and being called stupid came rushing back. I was more than a little down and sad after working so hard to get my grades in math up where the rest of my grades were. Mama called my math tutor and told her. On my 18th birthday a few days after getting my results I got a surprise at school. The office called in my class a few minutes before lunch and said I had a package and visitors at the office.
I got to leave for lunch a little early finding my tutor and her son (who I consider a little brother) standing outside the office holding dark purple balloons as a birthday surprise to cheer me up. They know purple is my favorite color. Seeing them made me emotional. Margaret looked at me saying: “Today is a happy day and those results are complete garbage. I don’t want you to give them another thought. You’re going to rock college, Stace.” I nodded teary.
She told me mama had told her what had happened during the test. “I hate that happened to you, but I don’t want you to worry because that assessment doesn’t mean anything.” Nodding again I hugged them both thanking them for the surprise. We can’t wait to celebrate with you later they told me before letting me head to lunch. Telling them I couldn’t wait either, giving them both hugs, and saying I love you to both: I headed to lunch with a smile on my face feeling lighter than I had in a few days.
Margaret’s belief came true. I did rock college graduating with high honors proving everyone who doubted wrong. In addition, I went onto rock graduate school, too. As I think back typing this: I’m proud of every single accomplishment in my life and the ones to come. Great pleasure comes from my proving people wrong. It’s fuel for me at this point. I wouldn’t want an easy life because where are the lessons in that? An easy life means my story wouldn’t be worth telling. I wouldn’t trade my self confidence or the life I’m creating for myself, now.