Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Wisdom For The Ages

Mrs. Barrett, my middle school guidance counselor, was a woman in her fifties who dressed in layered shades of brown--cardigans over button-up blouses over what appeared to be T-shirts. She also wore round-framed glasses with thick lenses that magnified her slow-blinking, watery eyes. All of this contributed to her overall resemblance to an owl, which may be why all these many years later I still remember her as an uncommonly wise woman.

Once, in seventh grade, I was called to her office so that she could break the news to me that I had missed entrance into the gifted program by one IQ point. I don't recall that this was of any great concern to me at the time. I had taken the test over the summer because one of my sixth grade teachers had suggested it, not because I had any burning desire to be in the gifted program.

Regardless, we had a nice chat in which she dominated the conversation and I nodded a lot. She spoke of adolescence as a difficult and confusing time and then she said to me something I carry with me still.

"Probably sometimes you will wonder if you are going crazy. I want you to know that if you are sane enough to wonder if you're crazy, then you are not crazy."

I cling to that notion still. Maybe a little too tightly.

C is for Craziness

22 comments:

  1. I like that notion. Good to know I'm sane.

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  2. I think that's hilarious that a middle school guidance counselor would say that to a student!

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    1. The funniest part to me was that not only was I not acting upset, I was not FEELING upset at the time.

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  3. I often wonder whether the middle schoolers I taught remember anything but the field trips to Yosemite, or the Shakespeare productions. That you remember this saying, and that it still applies, speaks volumes. I think Gracie will appreciate this post!

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    1. I have lots of little moments like this collected in my brain from teachers, administrators, etc throughout my school career. I'm not exactly "normal," though so I don't know that I'm the standard to go by.

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  4. Yikes! I DO appreciate it but it makes me wonder what "wisdom" I might ever have dispensed that someone will someday blog about!
    And, MM, gotta say I do everything in my power NOT to dress like Mrs.Barrett. I at least try to not be frumpy! And, although the teachers are all called Mr/Ms, the kids do call me by my first name....that would be laid back NorCal speaking.

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    1. The thought Mrs. Barrett even HAD a first name probably never entered my mind.

      It's funny what people end up remembering. I have gotten in touch with people I haven't seen in 20 years and have been stunned to remember what inside joke or "wisdom" or brief conversation stuck with them. Sometimes I had no recollection of the incident at all.

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  5. Ha! I took that test too and remember being told that I wasn't "gifted enough"! I look back on it and think that was sort of cruel, but the truth is that I wasn't. Nowadays you would get a certificate for that!

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    1. You're probably right about that. It's kind of weird how much things have changed since the "olden" days.

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  6. A perfect notion to cling to!

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    1. It's served me well for over thirty years now. ;)

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  7. A teacher, my second grade teacher to be exact, told me that my handwriting looked like chicken scratch.
    Yep, I still remember that.

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    1. Isn't it weird the things that stick with us? I had very few interactions with this woman, but that particular line really stood out for me, obviously.

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  8. I love your description of that lady, I think I can see her standing in her room now!
    Have fun on your AtoZ Challenge, thanks for stopping by my blog.

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    1. Thanks--she's one of the clearer images in my mind from that time even though we didn't have a lot of contact. Happy to "meet" you on the A-Z trail. ;)

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  9. I totally cling to that notion, too!

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    1. Good to know I've got company.

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  10. Being a psychotherapist I often tell my doubting clients that self doubt is the first sign of sanity.

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    1. It definitely makes sense to me. Not that that's saying too terribly much.

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  11. If self-doubt is a sign of sanity, I am the sanest person I know. Thanks for this. :)

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    1. Ooooh, I love that, Tara--and, obviously, I can totally identify with it as well.

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