I started off in homeschooling. It wasn't out of religious fundamentalism or whatever most people go into it for: according to my mother, I was ready for school at three and a half, and only Venture School would take me that young. If I was taught through any grade-based curriculum, I wasn't aware of it. I only remember that it was fun. I had time to learn about what I wanted, which was, at that time, endangered species and Greek mythology.
I started public school (in the traditional sense of the word) in fourth grade, the year I turned eight, and immediately loathed it. I was in trouble for everything: for reading during lessons, for not keeping my feet firmly on the ground and below my desk during lectures, for not turning in homework. That last problem would stay well into high school. For some reason still unknown to me, I was immediately designated the least popular kid in school. I had recently moved to a new neighborhood: one of the neighbor girls informed me she would be my friend, but only when we weren't at school. Midway through the year, I finally managed to get some friends, until, near the end, I didn't.
Fifth grade wasn't any better. My teacher liked me much more, at least, and tried to accommodate. I also met Chrissy, who's still my best friend. I was still social poison, though, in the variety of ways only kids can come up with. When two computers were stolen from the computer lab, my classmates accused my father. Someone told the others I had 'Jasmine germs,' and no one could touch or talk to me without catching them.
I don't remember much of sixth grade, to be honest. I remember being unhappy, but being surprised by it: I expected things to change going into middle school, which was hopelessly idealistic of me. I was pulled back into homeschooling for the last three months, though, again, I don't remember why. I think it was a combination of social dissatisfaction and my grades slipping. The only thing that I really remember from that year was that it was when I started realizing that I wasn't, in fact, special in the slightest. It was very depressing. I think it was around here that I started thinking about killing myself.
The pinnacle (or deepest trench, maybe) of misery was seventh grade. I came back to school, and … nothing had changed! Again! I was still the one the unpopular kids ignored to try to look popular, and now Chrissy had switched into Venture for good. My mother started working again, and I had to take the bus home, which I enjoyed. Until, of course, a group of boys started picking on me there, too. The police were eventually called, after they threw rocks at me when I was biking from the bus stop. I developed very strong anger issues at the beginning of the year that lasted into the beginning of the next school year. When I wasn't angry, I was miserable.
Things started to get better in eighth grade. People didn't seem to care enough to actively pick on me, and the anger from the year before had stripped away any thought of trying to fit in. I made another friend, Lillian: she was sweet, gentle, and even unhappier than I was, though better at hiding it. I spent less time crying in the bathroom behind the school. I believe this is when I first started taking antidepressants.
And then I started high school in ninth grade. Starting at Cal High was possibly the best thing that's ever happened to me. I made friends immediately – at registration, actually, when I went to sign up for the Gay-Straight Alliance. I was adopted by a group of seniors, and when you're thirteen, nothing makes you feel better about yourself than high school seniors enjoying your company. I still had attendance problems, but that hadn't changed before and wouldn't change later. I think this was when I was diagnosed with ADD and bipolar, unless it was the year before.
Tenth grade was even better, in a way. My senior friends had graduated, but I had other friends in the upper grades, and, now, some in my own. I was a lot more comfortable with life in general: still not so much with other people, but better than years previous. I don't remember much of this year, either, save that my grades started dropping.
Things started slipping in eleventh grade, but, this time, it was entirely my own fault. My grades dropped, and my attendance even more, to the point where I was forced to go back to Venture for all but two classes. Looking back, I think I must have slipped into a major depressive episode: I stopped caring about most things, from school to friends, and I started cutting. I had my favorite teacher of all my time at public school: he let me skip class to go to the library, and we talked about politics and Neil Gaiman before class started.
And last, this year, twelfth grade. I switched full-time back into Venture, which was definitely the best decision. I went to court in the beginning of the year for my absences the year before, which was ... unpleasant! Overall, it's been a good year, I think. I've done the most changing, and, for the first time, I'm actually sure in my own skin. Which is ironic, as I've also probably done the most cutting this year, but there you go. Objectively speaking, it should have been worse than last year, actually, considering that, my self-isolation, and the fact that I started sleeping twelve to sixteen hours on average. However, compared to almost any other given year, I feel pretty good.
Looking back, do I regret going into public school? Yeah, kind of. I've been happy for the last four years, but I'm not sure that balances out the previous five. The thing is, though, I wouldn't be the person I am right now without those five&mdash and, for the first time, I like the person I am. Maybe I'd be the same if I stayed in Venture all the way through. I doubt it! I'll treat this like I do all things regarding time travel: changing things might result in change for the better, but it might end up in a horrible disaster, so better just to leave well enough alone.
This is intended mostly to turn into my teacher (because I'm scrabbling for elective credits), so it's written a lot more formally than usual. It also makes me feel sort of warm and fuzzy to realize I'm so much happier than I was before.