I’m a high school drop out. But in a sort of non-traditional sense. My first encounter with disability happened in the wake of living abroad as a sophomore. I found myself simply not attending my junior and senior years of high school. It was a complex situation.
My mother battled against teachers and administrators using the ADA and standardized tests as her weapons. The College Board as a series of 34 tests called the CLEP that gives you credit for having college level knowledge. It’s a very good short cut for self learners & autodidacts to get credit for what they know. And it’s way cheaper.
Between CLEP and AP exams I was able to provide a pretty convincing portrait of competence to both colleges and my shitty college preparatory school. It was enough to get me into university and to extract a high school diploma despite a record of non-attendance. Reasonable accommodation wasn’t really a thing at the time but you could bury the fuckers in paperwork. A tactic less ethical parents than my mother have surely realized by now.
I was a bit of an orphan in my class as I was quite frankly never there. What teacher could possibly vouch for knowing me? It’s because of this lack of attendance that don’t really consider myself a graduate since the diploma is merely function of testing out. A fancier version of getting one’s GED as it were. So when it came time for various teachers to do things like writing quotes for graduating seniors nobody wanted me.
My French teacher from my sophomore year (otherwise known as the year abroad) must have grabbed the short end of some straw as she ended up having to say some shit about me and opted for the Nietzsche dancing star pablum.
One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star
I felt terrible for her. She had to find a suitable quote for a troublemaker of the worst sort. I was institutionally non compliant. We hate when people have too much chaos in themselves. Sure culture is mostly made from outliers but don’t be too weird.
Sure dancing stars sound poetic but these days Nietzsche is just another coded message board signal for Leopold and Loeb Part 2 Ubermensch Trad Rad Cath Boogaloo. Naturally some of his current fans are fuck ups because institutional power is always going to push back against chaos until it proves profitable to absorb it. But it’s not always clear who will become absorbed into the mainstream as acceptable.
I’m a careful watcher of who is considered dissident as I’ve been that chaotic kid basically since I was born. I was protected from so much of the sanding off that comes from social acculturation thanks to my parents.
But it’s almost impossible to protect oneself entirely. Much of the work of going to therapy as been about recovering the soul of that chaotic child. I hope I’ve gained the skills to protect her from being beaten down any further.