1999 – Age 14

When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

I dug up an old notebook from my 8th grade year. It’s unusual in that I managed to stick with writing for long enough to nearly fill a whole notebook, and that I didn’t immediately burn it. It’s pretty tough for me to read, because 8th grade was a difficult year, where I was adjusting to a new town, new school, trying to make friends and desperately wanting to fit in. Some stuff is cringeworthy because I sound so immature, but I also found that I’m strangely perceptive at times. I appreciate the fact that I managed to capture a glimpse of what it was to be me at age 13.

If you are 12, 13 or 14 and struggling, I thought that you’d like to read what I wrote. I’m attempting to relate to what you’re going through (even all these years later) and to tell you that you’re not alone, and the cliche that every adult tells you– “It will get better” –is true.

First of all, here’s the whole PDF if you really want to read the whole thing, with my handwriting, in alllll it’s cringeworthy glory. Most of it’s pretty innocent, maybe a tad embarrassing, but probably totally normal.

The Diary

Excerpt from my journaling in italics.

“I’ve decided to write a journal without dates, just explaining what it’s like to live in a day of a hearing impaired kid. It’s not much different from a regular kid but I feel it’s waay more complicated.”

“My life, I feel, has been one bad memory. Well, maybe not. Ever since school started it was. I first got my hearing aids when I was 4, right before I went to preschool. I do remember when my neighbor friend, Jordan didn’t want to be my friend because he didn’t know what the heck were those ‘things’ on my ears. It didn’t mean much to me that he left my life but to his friends, it meant that it was okay to pick on me because I different. I was never popular to begin with, but the reasons have changed over the 10 years of being around kids my own age. In Kindergarten, 1st grade and, 2nd grad it was ’cause I was different, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade was because of my faulty “r” sound. People thought I had a weird accent or something. An last, but not least, through ALL those grades, aggressive communication style that I was never aware of till 8th grade when this Savior Katie U. came along.”

Katie U., was a very influential figure in my life. Looking back on it now, I realize just how much I admired her candor and enthusiasm for life. I admire her so much even now, that I still try to emulate her–especially her honesty. Her open style of communication taught me how important it was to honest in order to build strong relationships. Yes, I loved and trusted my parents, and they would often try to comfort me, but it was never enough. You see, I thought my parents were biased and would simply tell me things I wanted to hear. That may or not be true, but Katie came along at a time when I was struggling, and told me things I needed to hear. I hope you will have such a person in your life too.

Yes, my immature self called her “a savior”. An exaggeration, perhaps? In retrospect, no–I don’t think it was an exaggeration. She perfectly embodied an archetypal hero in my life, exposing me to new ideas, challenging me, and speaking the truth. As the Buddhists say, “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.” I’ve had more than one teacher like this in my life, but this is definitely one of the first that managed to shift my worldview–yes, even the narrow perspective of a hopelessly self-absorbed teenager.

Other highlights in the journal:

  • A response from my teacher.
  • Sweet, innocent thoughts about religion, god, and Jesus
  • bad poetry
  • a quick glimpse into an interesting field trip I took (and still kind of remember!)
  • trying to convert a friend of mine to Christianity
  • end of the year signatures from friends at school
  • daily journal for bible camp (which I looked forward to every year)
  • stupid gushing over my camp crushes
  • appreciation notes
  • lyrics to “Washers”

Further highlights from this year not yet covered in detail:

  • We moved | Describe first poopy house while we waited for new house to be built
  • Band, Mrs. C
  • First friend made in class, Amanda
  • Feeling alienated by kids (kicked out of popular kids’ lunch table)
  • Summer with Amanda
  • Started 8th grade.
  • Mrs. T-L (art), Mr. W (science), Mr. Sch (computer tech), Mrs. C (band), Mr. Mull (graphics)
  • Mrs. U | teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Cross Country Team, Nickname Turtle. Turtle collection, different languages, etc.
  • Band, clarinet


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