We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofJason Mizhquiri

There was a time back in middle school when I had bad grades and no idea what was going on. I was lost, but I felt happy drawing and thinking to myself. I didn’t know drawing would end up hurting me, and I kept drawing without any concern for the future. 

Drawing was the only thing I had because no one would talk to me and it was eventually the only thing I liked to do during class. Whenever I went home I stopped drawing, but the second I went to school and didn’t want to do work or pay attention, I always turned to drawing to give me comfort. Eventually, all I ever did in school was be alone and draw. 

At one point I didn’t do anything on my school assignments but draw all over them with little doodles. Sometimes I would even check the back to see if it was blank, and if it was I would draw all over that too. I didn’t really think about my grades or what I was doing because I didn’t really care about any of those things. I spent about a whole school quarter drawing and avoiding classwork. Soon, I would regret this because eventually I would find myself wanting to do my school work but not knowing how to do it. I was too scared to ask for help, mainly because my biggest fear would be the teacher asking what I’ve been doing and not having an answer.

Not understanding the classwork didn’t really bother me. I went back to doing nothing; however, it ended up getting worse. It was to the point where I just walked in and the second the teacher started talking I looked down at my paper and didn’t even look at the work. I would just look for a blank space to draw on. 

One day one of my teachers decided to put us into pairs to work together, and I was stuck with a student who wasn’t happy to work with me. I was a little embarrassed at first. My classmate started complaining from the start and told the teacher that they didn’t want to work with me. Their reason was that I didn’t do anything, that all I did was draw. That made me feel more embarrassed and upset. In my mind, I knew that I wanted to prove my classmate wrong and show everyone that what they said about me wasn’t true and that I could do my school work if I wanted to. 

I ended up working alone that day and during that time I didn’t choose to draw out of embarrassment. I was afraid that someone might see me and believe that my classmate was right. I took the rest of the class time to try and do the assignment. It was all confusing and I couldn’t remember learning any of it. 

After that day I spent less time drawing. This was one of the most difficult things I chose to do. During school when I was bored I wouldn’t draw anymore, I would just sit there. It was very sad. I spent the rest of the quarter trying to figure out how to do my work. The less time I spent drawing in class, the more I realized how far behind I was. 

It made me sad and frustrated but eventually, my teacher came to my desk to help me, and little by little I picked myself back up with the help of my teacher always being there for me. 

Today, I only draw when I have free time. I make sure that I don’t have missing work. I’ve learned to only use drawing as a way to calm myself down, pass the time, and have fun.                

© Jason Mizhquiri. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.