To The Teacher Who Didn’t Give Me A Chance
To the teacher who didn’t care,
All I wanted was a chance. A chance to do what I loved. It wasn’t just a hobby to me; it’s what I loved most in the world. By not giving me a chance, you took that away from me.
It’s been over 10 years since I quit my high school’s choir. It’s been 10 years, but I still think about it from time to time. There are so many regrets I have from when I was in high school. The biggest regret, however, is not standing up to you. Not standing up for myself. Not speaking out.
For five years, I put up with your nonsense and hate. I let it be because I couldn’t stand the thought of not doing what I loved. Singing has and always will be my favorite thing to do. Theater – plays and musicals — has always held a special place in my heart. Being a part of a choir was the closest I’d ever get to those quiet dreams, or so I thought. I don’t know where this love comes from; no one in my family was remotely interested in theater. But being part of the choir, being on stage with my friends, was a dream come true.
But you crushed that dream every chance you could. Because of my wheelchair. Because I didn’t fit into that perfect image you wanted. You shoved me in the corner of every show. You left me out of things. I didn’t want special treatment, which was your argument when my family tried to fight against you. I just wanted equality. I wanted the same chance you gave your other students.
I can’t tell you how many times you made me cry. I remember wanting to audition for a state choir. You were helping a handful of us who wanted to audition, and we stayed after school so that you could record us and send in our tapes. I was the last to go because the choir room wasn’t accessible, and we’d have to use one of the spare pianos in the back of the room. I didn’t mind though because I was so excited. I waited as you went over and over the others’ auditions. You worked with them, recorded over and over, and made sure their tape sounded perfect. They all left when it was my turn. You went through the scales and whatever else with me, but I was nervous. I messed up and actually said the word “oops,” thinking you would go back and let me re-record it like everyone else. I was wrong. You said it was fine and wouldn’t let me go back. The rest of the tape was awful, I’m sure, as I tried holding back tears.
Five years I put up with situations just like this. This wasn’t even the worst. What about the time I was locked backstage as everyone else went down the stage stairs? Or the time you accused me of stealing a choir robe? The final straw was the dinner-and-a-show we were putting on during my sophomore year. I told you repeatedly that the tables were too close together, that I wouldn’t be able to get where I needed to be. I just needed one or two clear paths and you refused to do anything about it. When I showed up, I couldn’t even get to the choir room to tell you I couldn’t get through. A mother of another student had people get up out of their seats to make a path. When my own mother confronted you, you said I could sit off in the corner for the show.
I left, once again in tears. Five years I let you treat me like dirt. I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. You didn’t just take away a dream. You destroyed my self-esteem. It’s no coincidence that my depression really started that year. The little self-confidence I had as a child, you shredded through those five years.
I saw you recently. My sister was in the high school’s play and you were there to watch. At the end, you were walking towards me, but as soon as you saw me, you turned around and completely walked out of the building. I laughed. My sister laughed as she saw the interaction. And I realized something important that night. It’s been over 10 years. I’m a completely different person than I was then. I’m not afraid of you, or anyone like you, anymore. Yes, at the time, you quite literally ruined my life. But I’ve moved on. I’m happy and in pursuit of a new passion, one that I won’t let anyone take away.
More importantly though, I forgive you. I forgive the awful things you did and said. I forgive the way you treated me. I forgive you for making me feel so insignificant in this world. I forgive you for taking away that dream.
I know you probably won’t see this. That’s fine, but maybe someone else will. Someone who needs the courage to stand up to people like you. Someone who needs reminded that there’s more to life than one person’s opinion. Someone who needs encouragement to never give up, to go after their dreams, no matter the obstacles.
Your former student,