Welcome to the thirty day writing challenge – Day 2.
Write something that someone said to you about yourself that you never forget.
“You’re going to be my guinea pig.”
I have heard this more times than I can count. The first time I remember hearing this was in the third grade. My teacher was trying a new project with the class and those were the words that innocently came out of her mouth to the class and stuck to me like one of those sticky fly traps. I heard it the very next year with a different teacher. Then the next, the next, and the next. Flash forward to the seventh grade and a teacher said the same thing about creative writing project (The year of the peanut butter poem – I will save that story for another day) and those same words stuck to me again. You see, that first year hearing those words – I was thrilled. I thought it meant I was doing something to better a system that would be more effective in helping other kids in the future – even at that young age. And each of those years I heard those same words but their novelty wore off quickly. When I left my elementary school they installed another playground because they had found that our class seemed to be too crowded on just the one. “Thanks, guinea pigs!” those words felt real and tangible in the air as our school bus drove past the school and I knew my younger sister would be playing on that playground and I would never get the chance. When I left my middle school and moved onto high school, the middle school changed it’s mascot and colors. We went from orange (which I despised) and navy blue Tigers to red and black Falcons. I fumed watching my sister get to wear her better colored uniforms instead of the awful orange polo shirts I had to stare at all day during those years. Because a mindset had already been established I just chocked it up to being a guinea pig and moved on with resentment. High school – when I heard those words I just rolled my eyes like a good teenager should and it just went into my guinea pig bank.
18 years old – I was working at getting my minister’s license. I had just been on a three week mission trip to India and then a five week mission trip to Africa (South Africa and Zambia) during which I heard the minister say over and over to people (total strangers) that this was the youngest she had ever licensed someone. She told them that I was her guinea pig. I heard her chuckle and joke that she hoped it all worked out – followed by a quick “oh, she’s a good girl, it will.” And those moments, folks, stuck to me. Those sticky fly traps. (Have you ever run into one of those? Seriously, you don’t get that stuff off!)
Well, I am not with that ministry anymore. Yes, I did get my license. I gave it up when year number two rolled around and I did not want to have to pay money that I did not have to feel validated anymore. I am not a guinea pig. I am a person with feelings – not a test subject. Maybe I am not the “good girl” some say that I am because when I think about these stories, all I have is a little middle finger (I have tiny hands) for anyone who decided that I looked like a good test subject to use.
Guinea pig is just a nice way to say lab rat.
Now, I do not remember this specific something someone said because I want to or even because it is of any use to me. I remember it because it is stuck. When you are told something over and over (especially in those young years) – its hard to make those words go away.
So, here’s to forgetting mindsets and here’s to remembering that I am important too.