I started Primary School fairly oblivious to insecurities and worries, but I felt very misunderstood as a child; few teachers supported and understood me.
Pupils were put into one of four houses: Beckett, Caxton, Marlowe or Wolfe. I was in Marlowe. Pupils would collect ‘house points’ for achievements and good behaviour. We’d add points under our name on a chart. After reaching a milestone of points, you’d be ‘rewarded’ by having your name called out in assembly and going up to collect your certificate. This didn’t seem like a ‘reward’ to me and I didn’t feel like I was missing out when I refused to enter how many points I had. Doing this at the expense of not having certificate seemed totally worth it to me.
In year 4, my year group went on a school trip to Swattenden, a leisure centre in Kent. While we were there, my teacher forced me to eat curry, which I didn’t like, and I remember everyone cheering me on in the cafeteria. I felt very uncomfortable being the centre of attention. It put me off curry for a long time!
Each time we went into town, we were allocated some money. Whilst I watched others buying food and drink, I saw a football magazine and trading cards. Perfectly happy spending money on what entertained me, I was excited at the prospect of opening all of those packs of cards. My teacher was horrified. Once we got back to the centre, she sent me to the room I was staying in and said I couldn’t come out. I was clueless as to what horrific act I had committed.
As I got off the coach to meet my parents, my teacher asked them “has he told you what he’s done?!” Once she’d told them the tale, my parents said “Wow, Lewis, that must’ve been great!” – and it was! My teacher had nothing else to say. However, the following year, it was my brother’s turn to go to Swattenden, and he was told “you can only spend £10 because last year someone spent £15 on cards.” I knew that they were referring to me. My mum and I laughed about me being famous!
My class once had to write a poem about squishy tomatoes and no one could start their break time until they did. I had no idea what to write, so my teacher kept me in over break time. This probably kick-started many years of disliking poetry and worrying about what I would say. In year 5, my class had to write a poem about monsters. My poem went something like “Monsters, monsters, in the night…” and ended “…will give you a fright.” My teacher read it out loud, and then said “This is not a poem”.
On a taster day for a course at college, one team-building exercise was answering: “if you were a chocolate bar, what would you be?” Given that I never wonder what I’d be, and thought it was a stupid and pointless exercise. It became more likely as we went around the room that I would be the only one who didn’t have something to say. And I was.
There have been so many times, where I’m the only one in the room that doesn’t seem to know something and can’t think of anything to write or say related to the presented task. Now it no longer surprises me. Now, I’m more comfortable being who I really am on my own, instead of following the group and trying to fit in.
Lewis is an introverted person who will happily talk at length about subjects he is deeply interested in. He loves to write and explore words, with a passion for poetry and Hip Hop: its culture; its consciousness; and its music. Lewis has learned to manage feelings of social anxiety, low self-esteem and shyness and feels his experiences have helped him to develop as an individual and discover how best to approach challenging situations. He hopes sharing his experiences will help to empower others to grow in confidence too.