I went to a very conservative high school they really didn’t take a lot of lip or attitude from you and you’d be suspended, or worse expelled. The first offence which could be anything from swearing to not doing your homework they called your parents and made you sit outside the office which was all glass so that other girls could snigger at you and spoke to your mum and dad about what happens next.
Next was a suspension, they gave you a week or two were you were banned from school grounds, you would still be expected to do your work by the way. This was a disaster to us, to be suspended mean’t that you were marked and a failure. Last came expulsion, there were things that would get your arse thrown out immediately, like fighting, physical fighting, that was out, see you, the end.
Of course it was bitchy, 1500 girls together? Yes, there were bullies but they had to be careful, bullying was one of those immediate expulsion offences, so they had to keep it lean, most of the time they did that after school.
So the environment was driven for results, the entire school was focused on producing well scoring girls who went to uni, that was on all the literature, posters and website for the place, but one thing they really did drum into you was that despite what people said of females on TV and the outside world we were the equal of any boy/man, and possibly better.
Our school averaged in the top five of the country, we were taught to have pride in that, and we did, as far as it went we strove for the best, when they gave us tests they would talk about national and international standards. To be taught in such a way was exhilarating, from your first year to be told to aim for the stars gave you the courage to do it. As stuffy and conservative as it was, I really wish all girls were taught that way, it worked for me.
That may sound spurious considering that I went on to become a whore but I tell you this much, as shit as life gets it’s worth remembering that whatever task you have, whatever horror is before you, nine times out of ten if you set your mind to it, you can overcome it.
Many of you will not have had that kind of privilege, yes that’s true, but bear in mind that at 14 I left home, my education was worthless on the street, my inner urban snootiness was something that marked me for particular hatred. I adapted, I learned to modify my behaviour to suit my circumstance, eventually I ended up in Juvenile detention, again I adapted, I can’t say it wasn’t hard, it’s the closest thing to hell inside as I can imagine but I lived.
When I got out I had nothing, no where to go, no money no possibility for employment so I did what I was offered. I wish I hadn’t, I really do, there are some things in life a woman should never have to do, some things you just cannot wash out of shake off. Chances are you have some of those issues as well, abuse, rape, bullying, you might not be what people think is attractive, you might not do well at school all kinds of things. You’ll hate yourself, some of you will see nothing before you but a life of disappointment and loneliness, would it surprise you that most people feel like that at least for one period in their lives? The truth is life is struggle, the dreamy Hollywood idea that you will meet Price Charming and he will make you feel like a part of a whole and look after you is a fairy tale.
It’s a tough world out there, most of us when we are growing up don’t realise it, we think it will be different for us, we’ll change the world, luck will be with us, our guardian angel will look out for us.
If that happens I don’t know who to, I’ve never met anyone like that, for me, and I bet you, life looked rosy at some point then reality arrived.
Hard, yes it is, but there are paths for you, you may not like them, they will be difficult, you will doubt yourself, you might lose loves, fall on hard times but take it from someone who has been through a meat grinder, it is possible to survive, to live life fully after seemingly endless abuse and heart break. Because you are female is not a curse, it’s not a hindrance, its just harder, you don’t have to become hard inside, you just have to put your shoulder against the door and push, and push and push. It will be difficult and you will want to give in, I did, but I did manage to get to the other side.
There were many times I wanted to give up, sometimes I felt numb and empty, cold and unwanted, but eventually I came to understand that we, not others make ourselves, that I am not the sum total of failure and disgust, I am changed, I will do what I need to do to get by. I stopped suffering my life, regretting it and let myself live.
I always remember my principal standing up on the stage saying that, and she was right, Girls can do anything.