Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Why boarding school WOULD have killed me

I just this moment finished watching a channel 4 documentary following 4 eight-year-old girls as they begin their lives at boarding school. It was interesting. It was obviously a big shock and change at first but eventually all of them seemed to take to it and it ended with the most initially homesick girl saying what a wonderful time she had at her new school. I was rather pleased for them if I’m honest, hell of a lot stronger than I am or was, because I seriously wouldn’t have coped in quiet the same way.

I had severe problems with school. The whole concept of going to a children farm to be bullied, socially categorized and kept to a strict derivative schedule was difficult for me to get my head around. I simply didn’t understand: why people enjoyed it, why people did it, why I was made to do it. I was/have and always will be an extremely abnormal person and found very quickly that the social inventory had very little space for a person like me.

Oh don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t picked out for special terrorization by the others, I didn’t sit alone, silent at the front of the class, I had those communal moments of laughter, dissatisfaction and aggression as with all school lives, but they were filled with huge amounts of unnecessary fear and stress, that the others just didn’t seem to feel in the same way. I just fear people. I just see interaction as too complex to come naturally, often accompanied with enormous pressure, pressures that I just couldn’t seem to take in all at once.

And so I lived for the straightforward clear-cut quiet moments alone in-between the demoralizing, soul crushing drudgery of being in the company of other people, (and in that aspect I haven’t changed at all). On school nights I would cry myself to sleep in the knowledge that it would all begin again tomorrow, and on weekends I would weep in relief in the knowledge that I was safe and all was well, even if it was just for a short while. This unremitting suffering inevitably ended with mental breakdown, sickness and eventually my complete and utter isolation from the social world. I cannot put into words the sheer liberating relief I felt when I first stopped attending school. I knew what I was doing would ultimately lead to serious problems in my later life, but at 14 I was already too emotionally broken to care. I wanted to be alone. I couldn’t do society, I wasn’t made for it. There was something wrong with me, I wasn’t an average case of teen anxiety/bulling, people WERE nice to me, people LIKED me, people WANTED to be my friend, they just didn’t understand their communications were frightening me, that I was scared...

My point is, on this documentary they were saying how hard it was for the parents and children to separate, for the children to cope with life AT school, and I think they should have featured a child like me on their little documentary to give the whole thing some perspective. I am telling you now if my family had sent me away to boarding school, with that agonising social fear 24/7, I WOULD have just snapped and killed myself. I’m sad to say, I kid you not. And with these kids it seemed it took a few tears, some phone calls and a little time and boom...they were fine. It really didn’t reflect on how sending your kid to boarding school could end. How it really could go wrong. And that annoyed me especially knowing from personal experience how hard life at a normal school can be, let alone a boarding school. But then, I thought to myself a little while later, the documentary drew on the lives of 4 NORMAL children, and going insane and committing suicide hardly reflects on how an average student would act in a situation like that now does it?

1 comment:

  1. I dreaded school too. The last night of the holidays I used to lie awake all night wishing that it was the first. I'd rather be alone. I work from home now, I'm so lucky.

    Both of my sons had 'problems with school' too.

    I'd like to bet that you are above average intelligence