You see, through my whole life I seem to have always had a sense of low self worth. I was always the odd man out, the exception, the one who slipped through the cracks, the one that was ignored. I didn't have much "self esteem", and sometimes I felt like a natural-born loser. I don't exactly know when or where this set on, but from what I can recall, I remember making a friend back in first or second grade when, while on the playground, our Super Mario Brothers lunchboxes got switched, and after meeting, we became friends. From what I recall, it didn't take long for him to begin holding a certain "superiority" over me, where he was the "one in charge", so to speak. I picked up a couple more friends like that throughout the years, including K and his band of followers that followed in his footsteps.
While on the playground, I would play with him and the others, and though they all treated me poorly, I never questioned it. They all shared the same interests with me for the most part, and nobody else at school treated me like the kind of friend they would want to hang out with, so they were my friends, right? It's unfortunate the kinds of ideas and standards children will have that they don't truely know for themselves what friendship is, aside from the ideals given to them by their own experience. But I never questioned being treated poorly, merely instead thinking everything was normal.
I've always been different from everyone else too--something of an outsider. The first time I was brought to realization of this was back in early grade school when, for the first time, we were made to do a mile made by a course around our large playground. I ran/jogged/walked, thinking I was doing okay, but when everyone was gathering around our gym teacher and I happily went to go stop, I was told I wasn't done yet and to go do another lap. It didn't take long for me to realize in grade school that I didn't like sports or physical activity. At all. I would have rather gone and played Nintendo, honestly, and I recall even turning Dad down for a game of "catch" because I wanted to go play Maniac Mansion instead. I don't want to sound like some stereotypical "nerd", but gym was constantly forced onto me, and my lack of physical prowess was continually brought before the class to look and point at, though I do remember a couple kind souls in the class consoling me about such matters.
It might have been my lankiness or slightly odd mannerisms in my childhood, maybe my slightly humble/submissive attitude, my choice of friends and hobbies (so what if I wanted to pretend I was a videogame character instead of playing basketball?), but it started to get into people's minds that I was different...and you know what happens to "different" people when you're a child. Thankfully it was nothing like what cheesy family flicks portray (constant abuse from a character with an annoying laugh...until [event/plot point], then he doesn't anymore, and everyone learns a lesson), but it was still lodged in most people's minds, whether subtly or quite blatantly, that I wasn't on the same level of society as them.
Things didn't really erupt with this situation until middle school, when Union Center (my elementary school) and John Simatovich (a neighboring elementary school) were combined, and there it was put on stage that I was definitely different. I remember B, though we were in Cub Scouts together way back when, decided to take up bullying me. My lunchbag was stolen and tossed around, and he was generally mean to me whenever he could be. Why was this? Because the way I was allowed him to do that. I remember one particular instance of being shoved from behind to the floor by an unidentified student in the hallway while my arms were full of books and papers, and they got flung everywhere.
I took an interest in foreign things, like aliens, science fiction, Shadowrun, "Japanese animation", and reading books ("Is that book part of an assignment?" "No." "Why are you reading it?"). Actually, I think I might have been assimilated better into middle school...if I didn't carry around a book for a little while called "Dolphins, ET's, and Angels" x_x;; That was a beacon for folks to roll their eyes and say, "O~kay, that's the weird one." I was looked down on by less than sympathetic peers, and those with whom I eventually befriended were outsiders to some extent like I was...and coincidentally shared many of the same interests as me.
I never had a girlfriend, aside from something brief and unofficial with Jessica. I never went on a date, nor did I talk to girls like the rest of my class did. While the other kids wore Abercrombie & Fitch, I wore shirts with alien heads on them. I was continually harrassed in gym classes with no sympathy or salvation from other classmates or even the gym teacher himself. I recall during school, at one point I was filming something for the tech club, and two guys came down the hall, and I remember just one barely whispering to the other, "Man, I hate that kid." I'll admit to you all the wish to be dead came to my mind. But you know what changed me from that person into the "cool" (yeah right! XD ) person I am today?
Plain and simple. I became a Christian. I got saved. ^_^
I know I've written about this before, but it is true. Looking at my past, I can honestly see myself having gone off the deep end, getting involved in occultic practices, then eventually possibly having committed suicide. Shocking for some of you, yeah, I know. But right before I entered high school, at the Lake County Fair, I found that stand handing out free bracelets, they told me the message of Jesus wanting to save my soul on a personal level instead of merely just hearing it as a story, and I invited Jesus into my life to forgive my sins and take me to Heaven when I die. No, there's no "process" or "mess ups" you have to worry about to get to Heaven--just trusting in Jesus like that, that's all.
And you know, becoming a Christian didn't change things at school. People still treated me poorly, but I learned, I lived, and I pressed on. So when I finally got out of Wheeler, with gladness in my heart, I graduated and turned my back on that school. If I was the kind who would have, I would've displayed a certain digit on my hand, and given a hefty "Screw you, Wheeler!" (yes, those were our school colors; ugly, aren't they?) Instead...I merely left, and I think I've only been back inside the school twice, because a friend or two had business there. I didn't know too many of my classmates personally, and those who I knew, I mostly still keep in contact with them. I have about nothing but contempt for my old school ^_^;; I don't think you'll see me at any school reunions, I don't want to have any kind of part going back into playing the popularity and niche game again!
Though I know that my school life was eighteen whole years of my life, I view it as something different. Something "not me". What people thought of me and expected of me then does not make me the person that I am today. I know that I've changed some since high school, but for the most part, I'm still the same. Heh, in some ways I'm still a loser...except what gave me that "loser" title was just merely who I was tainted by what people thought of me. I still am and I'll always be Michael Daniels, but it's just that the personality I had never had the chance to get out until I got those seering chains finally cast off of me when I left school. So now I stand before the world and internet as who I am today. ...I hope I don't disappoint you ^_^;;
When I initially entered college, like I wrote before, it was a blessed feeling, something I hadn't ever felt before. I was treated without prejudice, and such things as "popularity" were a long-forgotten ranking system that died with the Dodo. People treated me like an actual human being...and that's the message that I preach to people whenever I can. It's that you need to treat people with respect and dignity. Treat people as equals, instead of looking down your nose at them or thinking yourself above them.
We're all people. We're all human beings. Let's give each other the respect we deserve already :\