Looking back on my not so ordinary life1/16/16
We are two weeks into 2016 and I have been thinking about what my life has been like so far. I am excited to have over 900 people following me on Twitter. That is a God thing because I would never have thought that many people would want to know more about me. That is one reason I use social networking to my advantage. I am a committed SMP (Social Media Person), with several accounts on the internet. I am writing two different blogs that expresses two different chapters in my life. My creative writing skills amaze me when I can use them for the right reasons.
The Health: Reality of my life
I admit that I have depression, which gets to me sometimes. Than I have my companion, Attention Deficit Disorder that has been part of my life for over 20 years now. I wear it with pride. My mind can be all over the place while I am trying to learn and teach myself new things. This brings me to my Social Anxiety Disorder also known as Social Phobia. Yes, I do love posting pictures of myself, yet I am nervous as hell when it comes to in person contact. Do not get me wrong I am a very social outgoing person, but once I get to know a person I can talk a mile a minute.
Then there are times that I am quiet and listening to other people talk. I may say something in between the conversation, but depending on the company that can be difficult. I may not speak Amharic, but if you talk slow, I might be able to understand a conversation. I know that is a shocker since I grew up in the young East African community in Seattle. One last thing people would not expect from me is that I have been dealing with a not so ordinary eating disorder. In my case, it is anorexia. When I am super focused on something I forget to either eat or if I am not hungry just skip eating all together.
The culture: The school years
These days I consider myself to part of the third culture generation. We are people that grew up in backgrounds that are different from our native culture. In my case, I spent over 30 years in America, I was born in Ethiopia, and to make it more out of the ordinary I was a Pastor’s daughter. We left when I was a year and a half so my father could further his education. He would not leave Ethiopia without my mother or me. As I grew, I discovered that I was not like my peers. I mean just having a name, as Mahlet can be a clue that one does not quite fit in with the group of students.
Although I was a shy, yet very outgoing young child. At a young age, I discovered the world of books. It was my own personal playground. Our home was close to the local library so my mom would take my brother and me on field trips to get books to read for the week. By the time came for our next trip I was finished and ready to get more books. As I got older, I graduated from the encyclopedia to C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. I got lost in that series.
Soon I began reading series books like The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High Twins, and of course my favorite Anne of Green Gables. When many of my favorite books became television series I had a chance to see, the characters come to life. In sixth grade, I read Stephen Kings Carrie and wished that I could be her. Anyone who could pull off fighting back at bullies was my hero at that time.
Yes in junior high, I knew I was out of the ordinary. I had braces on my teeth and on my back thanks to scoliosis. I knew I was not athletic so I had to fall back on the only thing I had my brain. In seventh grade, my teacher discovered I was an excellent speller. Finally, all that reading came into good use. The next year I entered the school spelling bee and I was one of the finalists to represent my grade at the local spelling bee. I was excited because I had finally found a gift that gave my life possibilities.
By the time, I began senior high I wanted to have the fun life that I had read and heard about. In my imagination, the world of high school was complete with every social event imaginable. The only thing in my way was my culture. This was the year that I constantly heard that African and Christian girls do not do fill in the blank. I had decide which was more important my social life or my education. Naturally, I was a teenager who wanted to have fun. I compromised with my parents I could not go to the dances, but I could go to the athletic events. It was tough, but my parents knew more than I did so I had to go along with their rules.
Naturally, I rebelled by joining some friends who had a “club” that did not like their father’s. Since my dad was a pastor and I could not have fun, I decided this was good enough. I put my family through hell those first two years. My eating problem was even worse that year. I hid it in my room. This was not a great idea because I was afraid of throwing away evidence away so my room smelled especially sour that year.
By the time my sophomore year ended, I was failing most if not all of my classes. I had been attending a private Christian school that was giving the priority to athletes and smart people. I was not part of any of the categories so I pretty much stopped caring all together. I was not going to college anyway. I was not college material so why should I even try. That year the school counselor explained to my parents that I was going through a phase that most young people passed through as they began adolescence. He assured them in time I would be back to my sweet ordinary self. I just did not know what ordinary was and how I would fit into that definition. This was when the term late bloomer entered into my vocabulary. I would never be ordinary not one bit and I was ready to prove it.
Thus, I entered my junior year with the hope of having a different life. My parents decided to home school me that year. I was not getting a lot out of the traditional school system (both public and private school left a mark on me) so we went through the nontraditional route. That year I was determined to beat my arithmetic demons. My parents wanted me to learn in a non-distracted environment. We bought all kinds of books in mind that I would be up to my grade level by the end of the year. It was that year that I learned about the great battle of Adwa that had raged in my homeland. It was the Ethiopians versus the Italians. According to the history books, this was a battle of the ages where Ethiopia was the only African country that kept the European’s from colonizing its country. This was something none of my history or geography teachers taught me. It was a very important and historical piece of information of my motherland. It was around that time that I realized that I had come from a nation which such a rich history.
My senior year began with mystery. My parents and I did not know if the preparation I did my junior year would qualify me to graduate on time. We decided to enroll me in an alternative highs school that was within the Seattle School District. These students did not fit into any of the traditional educational systems in the local school districts. For once, I felt right at home. I was registered and embarked on my final year of schooling.
The classes I took were not like anything I had ever taken even at home. I took a Humanities class that combined history and civics. My science class was normal and learning the basics of the scientific world. My only complaint was the math class assignments resembled an elementary school level with some secondary lessons. It was like playing hangman when you needed to learn algebra. I felt like everything I self-taught the previous year went out the opposite ear it entered. The best part of that year was that I took an elective in the school newspaper and a creative writing class. I finally was able to perfect my writing skills and be complimented on it.
That year I accomplished the impossible I graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. I was known to be an outstanding student with the gift of writing. That year I got awards from the Who’s Who of American Students and achieving a high grade point average for my school. It was an amazing feeling to be not only accepted but also rewarded for such good works. Not bad for a bookworm who would rather have a mighty brain than muscles of iron.
The college and career stage: An expected turn of events.
As a young adult, I tried different routes trying to find my place in the world. I went to college and for a year, I took the general education route. I took classes to improve my writing skills, a general math course to help with my arithmetic skills, a keyboarding class that gave birth to my techie skills, and a choral class that helped with my vocal skills. After that, I transferred to another local Technical College. I enrolled into a program that would ultimately change my life Para educator/Teacher’s Assistant. I realized my love of helping children could turn into a career.
I learned so much those two years. I learned basic sign language (letters A-Z), how to use the Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Publisher, and PowerPoint). I was also introduced into the world of learning disabilities. It was then that I discovered the basic lessons about Attention Deficit Disorder. I was shocked to find myself in those lessons. Could there be a reason for me being so disorganized? As I was getting ready to graduate I was helping my fellow students with the how to use the Office software. At that time, I was the only person left from the original class when I began. So it was a great opportunity to help someone else as someone had helped me in the past.
By the time I graduated from Renton Technical College, I realized that in order to complete my Associate of Arts degree I would need financial aid. The idea of filling out the government form terrified me so I decided it was time to find a job to pay for school. So began the working chapter of my life. For a few years, I worked as a daycare worker in three local daycares. I wanted to take care of the kids that most people would find difficult to work with. That was generally the age group that I was assigned.
I worked part time for a few years until I decided I needed a change. I got a job at McDonald’s, which was fast paced. It was something that I was able to do pretty well. Soon afterwards, I was hooked on the customer service bug. I got a part time job as a Customer Service Representative at a Christian bookstore in my old neighborhood. It was during the holiday season so I was trained and put to work as a cashier and kept the front area organized.
It was around this time that my mother was observing the signs of Attention Deficit Disorder in me. By this time, she had gone back to school and trained to be a counselor for elementary schools. I was the inspiration for her change in careers from music teacher to school counselor. For once, I was happy to be a good reason for change in her life.
Now the holiday season was slowing down and I was learning the art of inventory. It was a very intense lesson but I soon learned it was a valuable skill. I had to know where things were and how many products we had. My computer skills came in handy when customers called to pre-order books, music, and other products we had in our store. I was working back-to-back hours as an opener and closer.
Within a few months, I could sense that, my time at the bookstore was nearing its end. It was then decided to do something out of the ordinary… go online and find a job. I decided to narrow it down to working in the customer service industry. I than modified it to the Seattle area. Somehow, I found this full time position as a Customer Service Assistant at a store in the University of Washington area. It was amazing. It was my first try on applying for a job online and I hoped that it would come up with something. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. I was notified by the HR office that scheduled an appointment for me at the store. Wow, in a matter of days I went to the interview.
When I walked into the store, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. There were TVs everywhere the eye could see. I had walked into an electronic world. I met with the store manager and answered his questions. Before I left the store I did a walk around to see what all was in there. All I can remember was that I felt mesmerized. Could I fit into this world? A few days later, I got the call… I had been chosen for the job! I remember it was a few days before my birthday and my bookstore staff family had taken me out for lunch. It was bittersweet closing to that chapter in my life.
Soon I was trading book and baptismal gifts for home entertainment and early gadgets. Personally, it was an adrenaline rush that I was taking in stride I felt like I had found my place and I was ready to learn as much as I can as fast as I could. Everyone was friendly and ready to help me understand my role in the store. That role was that I was the first person that customers met, either on the phone or in person, and the last person they saw when they left the store. I gave my warmest and strongest greetings and made sure they found what they wanted from the comfort of my front counter.
I quickly learned manufactures and what they produced That was something new for me because I just knew the basics items like TVs, VCRs, and walkman. I had no idea there was so much more to it! I was able to explore the display rooms that had speakers with eclectic styles of music. The warehouse staff was so helpful and showing me where items were when it came to find them for salespeople. They even made a map for me so I could visually see which corner had what item. Soon I was surprising customers with how many items I could bring from the hold and repair sections.