Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Looking Back...Middle School to Conserve School. :)

(Lake Superior 2006. One of my favorite photos from a Senior Year backpacking trip in the Porcupine Mountains.)

Conserve School, a place where my soul was forever changed & my life took on a whole new direction. I was blessed with an amazingly powerful mother who stood by her young daughters dreams & helped her pursue an eduction at a boarding school. 

I grew up in two small towns in Central Wisconsin, I was raised by a very big, loving, unique family. .Growing up in a big family I was always encouraged to dream, create, & explore. I participated in dance, sports, musical theater, Girl Scouts & numerous other activities. My life was a vision of your quintessential American childhood.  
Then at 9 years old my world was changed forever. My parents, in the best way they could, informed me that my Dad, wasn't my biological father. Honestly, there are few days in my childhood that stick out as much as that brief conversation. All I was able to understand, was that in some way my Dad wasn't my dad & there was some other man out there who was. Life moved forward in a pretty normal pattern for a couple of years, I began to understand that even though there wasn't a biological connection between my father & I, he loved me & I was his daughter no matter what. When I was 11, my parents told my 2 younger brothers & I that they were getting a divorce & that we were moving with my mother. 
We moved when I was in the 5th grade. From the moment I arrived at my new school, I felt out of place. For an 11 year old I was struggling with some pretty big emotions & to be quite honest I was lost. Somehow I made it through the rest of the fifth grade without any major embarrassing moments & began to attempt to settle into what my life now was.
6th grade rolled around & it marked the start of some of the worst years of my life. In 6th grade I was still participating in a lot of extracurricular activities & had found out that I really enjoyed theater, basketball & volunteering. Unfortunately, I had struggled to truly fit in & had began to experience some mild bullying. I managed to make it through the first half of that year with out becoming too emotionally scared, by the end of the year things had taken an ugly turn. I was holding back tears on the bus ride home, torments from boys & mean girls following me every where I went. I forced myself to hold back the tears until I reached the safety of our duplex & each night I would write in my journal the millions of ways I could find a way out of that little town. 
In 7th & 8th grade the streak of bullying continued, from a hacked email account to boys that would follow me around & drop tissue behind me, accusing me of stuffing my bra, when in reality I had just hit puberty earlier than most of the girls in my class. Luckily, with encouragement from my family I continued to participate in extracurricular activities. Then in the middle of 8th grade my mom attended an Outdoor Sportsmans Show & stopped at a booth for Conserve School, a brand new boarding school in the heart of Northern Wisconsin. 
At the age of 12 I walked into my mother's bedroom, 100% serious & said "Mom, find me an agent. I'm getting out of this dreadful little town." Now, I have always leaned on the side of the dramatic, but in that moment I was dead serious. Little did I know that my mom would come to me a few months later, without an agent, but with an opportunity that would forever change the course of my life.
Somehow, I managed to make it through the enrollment process & was accepted into the second year of  Conserve School. One of my favorite moments in middle school was being able to walk into that place with my head held high & tell all of the mean kids & judgmental teachers that I was leaving. :)
In August of 2003 I packed up everything that I thought I would need or could fit into a dorm room & my family dropped me off at this beautiful place in the Northwoods. 
From 2003-2007 I laughed, loved, ran, swam, laughed, camped, backpacked & LIVED at a school where everything was based around Environment, Ethics & Innovation. It was an escape from the bullying & confusion of life back in that little town & I know that I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't been granted the opportunity to attend High School there.

I plan to do another post with more details about the 4 years I spent at Conserve. Until then I just want anyone out there who feels a little weird, different, confused, judged, upset or hurt to just take a deep breath & know that somewhere in this big universe there is journey waiting for you. A life better than the one you think you're stuck in now & people who are wishing they were a part of your life. I wish there had been a blog out there for me to read when I was struggling through the mess that was middle school. 

as always,

(Just a random night from my Junior Year. I was at an in-school concert event with friends.)