From Humiliation to Humility

As some of you may recall, my pdoc was not thrilled when I told him I had signed up to take four classes this semester. He tried to convince me to take only one class. He thought it was far too soon for me to attempt to go to school full time. I negotiated down to two classes and received a “whatever” in the form of a shrug. It wasn’t until friends and family told me that he was right that I accepted defeat and cancelled three classes and kept English 101.

At that time I said I had to humble myself and go to school at a slower pace than I liked. I lied. Humility had nothing to do with it. I was humiliated. humiliation is a state of abasement, disgrace, and shame. Here I was nearly fifty years old and I couldn’t take more than one friggin’ class? Humiliation was what I was feeling. I played the game of acting like it was ok. It, most definitely, was not ok.

Each day, in my English class, we are given an assignment to write in our journals. The professor collects our journals randomly every couple of week or so. He gives us the assignment towards the end of class and allows us the opportunity to complete it in the classroom or leave early and doing it at home. Naturally, the vast majority of us choose to leave early.

Wednesdays assignment was easy. A simple question regarding the first chapter of the novel, Siddhartha. Our professors expectation is that each daily writing assignment should take no more than twenty minutes to complete. At home it took me nearly two hours and my head told me it was nothing but drivel. I struggled when I wrote it, and again when I wrote it, and again when I wrote it for the third time. I finally resigned that I did the best I could do and transcribed my work from my notepad into my journal.

After completing my writing, I looked at the class syllabus and realized there were two assignments that I had forgotten about. I didn’t recall him asking us to turn them in, but there they were in black and white. They weren’t anything difficult. Just short bits of information that took me no more than ten minutes to complete. My hands started shaking. I couldn’t believe I forgot something so simple. It was too late now. I was certain he wouldn’t accept them. That was it. It was over. Just two weeks into the semester and I already failed my class. At this point it wasn’t just my class. Everything in my life was a complete disaster. Maurice came home and I went into a full blown meltdown. It wasn’t easy, but he was able to talk me through it and I calmed down enough that I was no longer hyper-ventilating.

Yesterday morning I took the bus to school an hour early so that I could talk with my professor. I humbled myself and told him a very edited version of what occurred the night before. When I told him the writing assignment was garbage he asked why didn’t I rewrite it. I was advised that I could revise an assignment at any time and all I had to do was notate in the journal that it was a revision. WHAT??? How dare he tell me I had a meltdown for nothing. I then handed him the two assignments that were long overdue and expected him to tell me it was too late to accept them. I was wrong. He had put those assignments in the syllabus to see if we had read the entire thing. He never asked for them. I was the first and only student to turn mine in. I silently gloated in class when he asked the other students to turn there’s in.

Before I left his office I felt compelled to tell him that I registered for classes through the schools special services department, but did not ask for any accommodations for his class. His response was, “Why the fuck not?” He told me to go back to my counselor and get a special accommodations form and have them put that I require a quiet environment, away from class, to take my exams. In addition, he insisted that I have them add that I require 50% longer time to complete my exams. I was in shock. In previous classes I felt humiliated when I handed the professor my special accommodations form. I could feel their thoughts rolling around in their brain. Thoughts about what a loser I am and what makes me so special that I get accommodations. They never said those words, but I could hear them loud and clear.

After class I went directly to special services to get my accommodations form and they gave me one further suggestion – a tutor. I didn’t know how much that would help and didn’t want to spend the money. It was then that they told me they paid the tutor so what did I have to lose?

I learned three lessons this week. I learned it’s not humiliating to ask for help. I learned that being humble and asking for help can bring great rewards. And lastly, I learned that my doctor and loved ones were right about only taking one class this semester and there’s nothing humiliating about that.  What a good week it turned out to be.

7 comments on From Humiliation to Humility

  1. I really enjoy your writing.
    You’ve given a really good example of the difference between humility and humiliation. There is a big difference. And I think humility is a really healthy thing.

    This seems like really good progress and deep self knowing and acceptance on your part.

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Gel. The battle between humility and humiliation has been an ongoing thing for me. I savor these moments of clarity.

  2. Oh hun so happy that you turned meltdown and depression into a positive lesson learnt. Also happy you got a great professor who is understanding and pushed you into doing what in the long run would be best for you.

    1. It’s good to see you, girlblu. It’s not always easy to take a negative and make it positive and I’d say my primary reason for not always doing so is because I don’t think about it.

  3. I had to smile when I read this post because so many times I have gone absolutely crazy for no reason. If only I had asked questions beforehand or taken more notice of what was said to me by others, or threw my pride aside, life would have been a lot easier.
    I’m so glad that you are now able to get all the help you need without feeling defeated or humiliated Bradley. Continue to use the tools that you have been given, and hopefully all will be much better and brighter. You’ve turned another corner mate. Great post.

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