Final Exams

Today, this year’s high schoolers should have heard whether they passed or failed their final exams for graduation. This inspired me to use one of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week, which is to write a post on the word “final”.

It’s been sixteen years since I graduated from high school. At the time, mobile phones were already in use, but they weren’t as popular as they are now and smartphones didn’t exist. Nonetheless, we were instructed not to text each other that we’d passed. After all, those who had failed would be called first and then those who had passed their exams would be called in alphabetical order. Texting each other would ruin the surprise effect. All of us would receive a call between 12:00 and 1:00PM. Since my last name starts with a W, I knew that I’d either be called at five past twelve if I’d failed, or at close to one o’clock if I’d passed.

Even though I had gotten pretty good grades on my school-based tests, which would make up half of my final grade, I had no idea how I’d done on the final exams. You could check your answers with a grading sheet available online once the exams were over. I didn’t do this with most subjects, I think. I did it with English though.

I at the time had an 8.1 out of 10 GPA in English. An 8.5 would be a nine. Though six is enough to pass, I badly wanted the nine. This meant I’d have to have an 8.9 on my final exam. When I checked, I found out that, most likely, I would not reach this. It however also depended on how strictly they were grading. After all, if most students scored lower than expected, they’d use a less strict grading system. If the grading folk were less strict than expected, I could get my desired 8.9.

Once the day we would be called arrived, I sat by my home phone from 11:30 until I was being called. I got called shortly before one o’clock: passed!

We were expected to be at school that afternoon to look at our grades. I had a surprisingly high grade on my geography final. That one had been adapted by my teacher and I’d taken it orally due to my blindness making the regular final inaccessible. As it turned out, the independent review teacher who had sat in on my final too, had been so incredibly impressed with my (quite mediocre) performance that he’d upped my grade. This made me feel guilty, but thankfully none of my fellow students knew.

As for English: the grading folk weren’t so kind this time. I passed with an 8.8, so got an eight out of ten GPA in English.

I, in fact, only got sevens and eights in all subjects, seven eights and eight sevens. This just about meant I wouldn’t be able to get accepted into selection-based college programs. Then again, I wasn’t intending on studying medicine or the like. In fact, now I’m more than grateful that I don’t need my high school diploma for anything anymore. I don’t even know where it is, nor do I care.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Learning Never Stops #Write28Days

Okay, here’s my post for #Write28Days for today. I know I already wrote a post today and at first I wasn’t inspired to write another. The prompt word for today is “Learn”. This at first didn’t inspire me, until I read Carrie Ann’s response. It completely resonates with me!

As regular readers of my blog will know, I did college for one year in 2006-2007, doing an orientation in psychological and social studies. I only passed the year because the communication skills instructor had given me a passing grade on the condition that I never continue into this field. I was diagnosed with autism a few weeks before the dreaded communication skills exam. Now I did poorly on the exam and don’t really want to use autism as an excuse. Other autistics, in fact, can become social workers or psychologists or work in other such fields the program would be training me for. But I cannot.

Then I transferred to university to become a linguistics major, only to drop out two months in. I took a few psychology classes at Open University in 2009, of course skipping the practice ones and doing only theoretical ones. I think that instructor back in 2007 was right, after all.

Despite the fact that I haven’t been in formal education in over eleven years, I however still learn. At times, it feels like I don’t. I mean, I am not in any type of training or education.

The last time I was in formal training, was to learn to use the iPhone in 2017. I fully expected I would no longer be capable, but thankfully I was.

And now, having become a Christian within the last two months, I am trying to learn all about the faith and memorize scripture. It’s hard, but I trust that with God’s help, it is possible.

Carrie Ann truly motivates me to keep trying to learn. I really want to learn to write better. I also still want to take some free classes. I mean, ideally I’d sign up for some university courses in education or psychology, but these usually require a prior college degree. Maybe I can use FutureLearn or the like. In any case, I really hope that, like Carrie Ann says, learning never grows old even when I do.

What I Wanted to Be When I’d Grow Up #Blogtober20

Today’s prompt for #Blogtober20 is “Wannabe”. I originally had no idea what to write for it, until I saw Mandi’s own post mentioned writing about what she wanted to become when growing up. Mandi chose against this theme, but I’m going with it. I can’t remember whether I ever covered this topic on this blog – I’m pretty sure I did on one of my older blogs, but it might have been here too. Even if I did cover the topic here, I have a lot of new’ish readers, so it may still be interesting.

I remember in Kindergaten we had some type of celebration that included a “fortune-teller” with a crystal ball – of course, it was another grade’s teacher. I remember she asked us all what we wanted to be when we’d grow up. Most girls wanted to be a princess, of course. I can’t remember what I said I wanted to be.

When I learned to write, however, I knew pretty soon that I wanted to be a writer. My parents, realistic as they were, told me up front that writing wouldn’t earn me a living unless I was a real good one. So for money I usually wanted to be a teacher.

I originally wanted to teach small children, of course, because I myself was still young. When I got to the later elementary grades, I made up my mind and wanted to become a high school teacher. Or a professor even. I remember proudly telling people when I was twelve that later I wanted to be a Dutch-language linguist. Later, I wanted to become a mathematician.

This was, at least, what I told others when my parents or teachers were present. Secretly, I made plans to become a psychologist. I wanted to help children or adults with my kind of problems, which I was well aware of by that age.

When I was in my later years of high school, the thought of becoming a psychologist remained at the back of my mind. Openly though, I chose to go the “safe” path and applied to become an English major. Then I made up my mind at the last moment and chose to take a gap year to go to the rehabilitation center for the blind.

I got the opportunity to study psychology, albeit not at university, in 2006. I jumped at the opportunity and did eventually earn my foundation (first-year diploma) in applied psychology. I passed communication skills only if I promised that I wouldn’t continue in this field though. I know, psychology isn’t the best major for an autistic. But I didn’t want to do something I didn’t like, so I picked linguistics as my university major with the intent of doing my minor in speech and language pathology. As most of my readers know, it didn’t work out.

I still intend on someday taking some more psychology or pedagogy classes. I will most likely never work at any paid job though. Still, my original dream of becoming a writer, has at least partly come true.

#Blogtober20

My Bucket List

Carol anne over at Therapy Bits did a blog post detailing her bucket list. It reminded me that, in May of 2018, I did one as well on my old blog. It was based on a prompt from an app I have on my iPhone that asked me to list 25 goals I have for the next 25 years. In 25 years, I’ll be 59 and hopefully still alive and well. However, this list is going to detail the things I want to accomplish in life as a whole. After all, my paternal grandma, who died shortly before I wrote that post, taught me by example that a lot can still be accomplished after 60. I’m not aiming for a particular number of items this time.

1. Write my autobiography. This was #2 (after finding suitable day activities) on the original list. I still haven’t gotten down to it, but I really want to.

2. Get published some more. I have been saying for the past five years that the one piece I got published in an anthology in 2015 makes me a writer, but I really want to get published more. Note to self: get to writing that piece for the Chicken Soup book.

3. Travel to the United States. I really want to visit some people who live there, but I also definitely want to enjoy the scenery.

4. Visit Ireland. My husband traveled to Ireland with his Dad when we’d been dating only for a short while. I’d love to see the country, eat at the high-quality vegan restaurant in Dublin my husband ate at and meet carol anne, who lives in Ireland.

5. Visit Poland. Emilia from My Inner MishMash lives there, so it’d be cool to meet her. However, it’s also cool to visit because my husband knows some Polish.

6. Stay at an all-inclusive resort. I don’t care for tropical destinations. All I want is to swim and eat as much as I want, even if it’s in my own country.

7. Get a guide dog. Okay, this is unlikely if I’m going to stay in the care facility, but one can dream, right?

8. Take some more distance learning college classes. I would still like to enroll at the Open University again. I’d also like to do some education courses, which would be through a commercial college as the OU doesn’t offer that program.

9. Take some in-person college classes. This is going to take some years, as those under 50 certainly can’t attend individual college classes without a prior college degree. I’m not sure the higher education for older people program still exists even.

10. Take a writing course. I have been looking at Writer’s Digest and other writing schools, but so far they’re way too expensive for me.

11. Do some volunteering. I’d love to someday do some volunteer work in social services or social care. For example, maybe I can be a language buddy to someone learning Dutch as a second language, or work as a volunteer helping people fill out forms for social services etc.

12. Sit on the client council for my care facility.

13. Join a gym, yoga studio or other out-of-the-house exercise place. I intended on doing this before COVID-19 hit and until there’s a vaccine, it’s likely not an option due to the assistance I need.

14. Keep up with technological advancements. I am pretty proud of myself for having learned to use the iPhone at age 31, but still I’d like to keep up-to-date with new technology for as long as I possibly can.

That’s it really. Other items I had on my list back in 2018 included getting more active, which I already manage, buying a house, which I’ve done too, and staying as healthy as possible. These are not necessarily items for on a bucket list though.

What’s on your bucket list?

Roles I Want to Play in the Future

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the roles I play. This post was inspired by the first prompt in the journaling workbook The Year of You. The second prompt is to write about the roles you would like to play in the future. Here goes.

1. I want to be a student. I don’t mean that I want to go back to college full-time. That place has been passed and I’ll never revisit it. However, I would definitely like to study at the Open University or some other distance-learning college again. I considered signing up for the developmental psychology course at the OU for this fall. I’m not sure I’m ready though.

2. I want to be a writer. Of course, I am a blogger already and I have one piece of mine published in an anthology. However, I really want to publish more. I’m not so sure I’ll ever write my memoir as I was some years ago, but some short pieces should be doable.

3. I want to be a volunteer. I really hope to do some type of community service, ideally putting my knowledge of disability and mental health to use. For example, maybe I’ll do a recovery course again and maybe in the future even lead one.

4. I want to be an advocate. I am already with this blog, but I really want to be more of a voice for the disability community in the Netherlands.

5. I want to be a crafter. That is, I want to be able to find a hobby that I enjoy. I no longer have it as a goal that I’ll be able to do it independently.

6. I want to be a guide dog owner. I really hope to be able to get a guide dog sometime in the future. I’m not sure that is a realistic goal, but I can dream, right? I mean, ideally, I’d have a psychiatric service dog/guide dog combo. That would be awesome!

That’s it so far. Last year, I might’ve added wanting to be a homeowner, but that goal can be crossed off.

What roles would you like to play in the future?

A College Memory

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to write about a college memory. I wrote about the very same topic on my old blog in 2016, some weeks after it was also a prompt on Mama Kat’s blog. I reread that post just now and was actually going to share the exact same memory. Now I don’t think most people who read my blog now, read my blog then. Still, I want to choose a different memory.

In 2016, I shared the memory of my first day at Radboud University as a linguistics major. I had a massive meltdown upon entering the lecture hall then, because I hadn’t known that there were over 200 students in there. I left and called my support coordinator, who took me to her office. This was the first time the psychiatric crisis service was called on me, but they said I wasn’t “mad enough” (my support coordinator’s words) to be admitted to the hospital.

Roughly eight weeks later, on October 30, I had my last day at Radboud University. I didn’t know it at the time, of course, since I wasn’t admitted to the mental hospital until November 3.

I had an exam that morning. It was my first introduction to language and communication exam. Passing this exam wouldn’t award me any credits, as the credits for the course weren’t applied until you passed the second exam some weeks later.

As always, I took a ParaTransit taxi to the university that morning. I think I had a meltdown right as I went into the building the exam was supposed to be held in, but I’m not 100% sure. I definitely had a meltdown when I was finished. The taxi driver driving me home threatened to dump me at the police station.

Regardless, I did sit in on the exam. Introduction to language and communication is basically a course in dissecting words into morphemes and sentences into their different components (no idea what those are called). That’s why the course was also sometimes called universal grammar.

Several months later, when I was home on leave from the hospital, I retrieved my E-mails. Back at the hospital, I sat down to read them. Among them was an E-mail from the director of studies telling me that the intro to lang and comm instructor had been missing me so had I dropped out? I also found an E-mail from administration notifying me of my grade on the exam: I scored 85%.

Several months ago, when my husband was clearing out the attic for our move to our current home, he found a letter from Radboud University. It was my provisional report on whether I could continue my studies or not. “Your studying results are grounds for concern,” it said. I’m so glad I never saw this piece before.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Job: What I’d Want to Do If I Were Employable #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day ten in the #AtoZChallenge. As with most difficult letters, I’ve had a theme word for today’s post in mind for a few days but wasn’t sure how to go about it. I am pretty tired already, so this will be a bit of a random ramble.

I am unemployable according to the Dutch social security administration. The guidelines for this were revised in 2015 and I was scared that I’d be deemed employable. After all, the guidelines say that someone who can do at least one task that is part of a job (so not a full job) and who has basic employee skills, is often employable. These skills that are part of a job, include for example doing the dishes. I thought I could do this until my husband informed me that I can’t. He also felt I didn’t have basic employee skills such as coming on time and accepting leadership. Apparently, the social security people agreed.

Until I had my major crisis at age 21, I thought I’d be perfectly employable and not just by the current standards. I was convinced I’d be able to have a regular, in fact high-level job. I studied linguistics and wanted to become a speech-language pathologist.

If I were to design my ideal job, I’d however be a type of social worker with some educational psychology involvement. I would be the person to find out what people in complex care situations really need and try to deliver that. Of course, with my poor social-communicative skills, I will never be a social worker. Educational psychology is also pretty much inaccessible a field to the blind because of its heavy reliance on statistics.

I think I’m pretty good though at coming up with creative solutions to problems at least when they are within my field of interest. I can be critical of my staff and often ask them why they do things a certain way. They are not always able or allowed to tell me, as I’m just a client. However, if I were a support worker, social worker or the like, I would not run into this.

Ever since I was old enough to be aware of my own unique situation within the care system at around age twelve, I’ve been wanting to be this kind of ed psych/social worker mix. I was convinced I could help prevent other people in similar situations to mine from falling through the cracks.

I tried to study applied psychology at college one year. With this one year behind me, I could’ve chosen a major such as social work or psychodiagnostics. I didn’t, after all, because my communication skills teacher told me I would be passed on the oral test if I didn’t continue in this field. This feels a little sad to me, but I still have the capacity to learn on my own terms. I will most likely never be employable, but I can still learn new things in this field.

Dreams I Had for Myself as a Child #Write31Days

Welcome to day 18 in #Write31Days. Today’s post is all about dreams and life visions. Specifically, I am sharing the dreams I had for myself as a child.

The first dream I remember having about what I’d be when I’d grow up, was a writer. I may’ve said as a KIndergartner that I wanted to be a princess or whatever, but as soon as I could write with some confidence, I wanted to make my career out of that. I remember my parents telling me pretty early on that writers usually don’t make a living writing, but I didn’t care.

As I said before, I started out wanting to write fiction. I didn’t keep a journal consistently until I was thirteen and fiction was all that I knew before then. I didn’t get access to the Internet until age fifteen, but by the time I had an Internet connection, I was hooked on non-fiction.

Another dream I had for myself as an older child and teen, was to become a teacher. My ideas varied as to which grade or subject I’d like to teach. I definitely looked up to my teachers, so it’s no surprise I wanted to be one.

When I was around twelve, I started to deveop a dream of becoming a psychologist. I wanted to help children who were likely to fall through the cracks, as I had a feeling I was. I started hoping every episode of my parents’ favorite news program had a feature on kids with psychological problems. Once, there was an episode on about autism and I was hooked. This was nearly ten years before my own autism diagnosis. I had a feeling I was somehow like the boy in the program. Similar with a seventeen-year-old girl who was being restrained in a psychiatric hospital in around 1997. She was too smart for intellectual disability services but didn’t belong in psychiatry either. Something clicked with me, but obviously I couldn’t put my finger to it. I still really can’t.

When I was sixteen, I developed another dream. I wanted to study in the United States once in college. I would be majoring in American studies at university in Nijmegen, which'd offer motivated, talented students the opportunity to study in the U.S. for six months in their third year. I was at the time pretty sure I'd be talented enough. I loved reading up about American cities on City-Data.com.

Looking back, obviously, I didn’t make any of my dreams come true. I write, but not for profit and I don’t intend on it ever at all. I have some education in psychology, but am nowhere near a degree.

At the back of my mind, there always was that seventeen-year-old girl in the isolation room in the psychiatric hospital. I’ve not become her either, but I’ve come close. Then I rose up above my fate and now I’m an advocate. I’m happy as I am now.

Share Your World (August 13, 2018)

Oh wow, now that I’m taking off with this new’ish blogging adventure, I keep discovering new challenges to participate in. I had seen posts titled Share Your World on other blogs, but never took the time to actually read those posts, so I never found out about the challenge. I did read one today and wow, what an amazing challenge. The idea is that Cee, the challenge organizer, provides four questions which you then answer on your blog (or in the comments on her blog). This week, the questions are very inspiring. Here goes.

A class you wish you would have taken?
Too many to mention. When I was planning for college in high school, I was thinking of studying something in the humanities field, such as Dutch, English or history. I ultimately officially (as in, for yearbook purposes) settled on English, but never actually took an English college class. Several years later, I studied linguistics instead – for two months. I still wish I would’ve taken the language acquisition class I dropped out of after only a week.

I also wish I’d actually finished more psychology classes. I started on five or six of them at Open University, but only actually finished two.

And then there are the countless creative writing courses I’ve looked at on school sites but never took. Oh and I would reallly like to learn more about social work someday. Oh and alternative medicine. Oh and … you get the idea.

Are you scared of heights?
No. I remember crossing a hanging foot bridge with my husband one day several years ago, unaware that he was afraid of heights. I felt mostly scared because he was and I had to depend on him to keep me safe.

Are you a good cook? If so, do you consider yourself a chef?
No, not at all. I could probably cook a simple pasta if I really had to, but I haven’t actually cooked a meal in years.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I try to appreciate something everyday. That being said, what comes to mind now is my husband bringing me a delicious bakery sausage roll all the way from a town about 70 miles away where he’d had to drive to in his truck. This happened on Thursday or Friday and I didn’t even include it in my gratitude list.