As a young child reading, writing, math, and other desk oriented activities were a challenge. I disliked attending school and was constantly looking forward to the next physical activity opportunity. Gym was often the highlight of my day with recess and lunch coming in a close second. However, I honed the skills of respectful classroom behaviour. I often supplemented my day by joining clubs like the recycling team so that I was excused from quiet activities and able to wander the school halls. I am not sure I knew that I was creating space for movement throughout my day yet I think my body was responding to an environment of discomfort through subconscious thought.
It is no secret that I failed to learn to read as quickly or efficiently as my peers. In fact, as a first language English speaking child I was placed in English as a Second Language classes throughout Junior High School. Here, I learnt to master the skill of memorization. My parents refrained from enrolling me in a second language class or teaching me their mother tongue because they believed my struggle with English would continue if not gain strength if my focus was diverted. At that time they, nor others, really understood that learning multiple languages as a child is actually healthy and beneficial. These second language classes were not my first supportive environments. For years, as early as my memory can take me, I went to Kumon class, private tutors in the evenings and before school, and spent time with my brother trying to catch up. My brother had the art of language mastered before I began crawling, I am pretty sure.
I often asked my parents to let me join community activities. For a short period I was a member of the Calgary Ismaili Girl Guides group where my participation came to a close because of my poor grades. I did not enjoy learning Indian dances or making bracelets so it really was not a huge loss. In grade seven I started playing ringette, a sport a close friend at the time introduced me to. It was my first recreational activity beyond playing in the backyard tree house my father built or in our neighbourhood streets. I quickly fell into my position as our teams goalie and looked forward to every practice and game. My team won only five games that season, all in the same final tournament where we came out as silver medal winners. That same year I played on various school teams including long distance running, soccer, volleyball, badminton, and track and field. As the ringette season came to a close I shifted into my first soccer season.
This year changed everything for me.
My confidence increased, my identity began to form, I started making friends, my academics improved, and I think I was a calmer child. My desire to be the best me possible started to form and I had no idea that all these changes were taking place. If I was to reflect on that time period it was all backwards for me, at least if you take the many textbooks I have read over the last ten years into account. Most youth, especially females, find their teenage years to be the hardest years with lower levels of self-esteem, self-confidence, and confusion in their identity. I on the other hand was flourishing and knew I wanted to become a neurologist, or so I thought.
For me, today, it is important to reflect on my grade seven year. I was the youngest student in my grade as I squeaked by the January 31st cut off for early entry into kindergarten at four years of age. I find it interesting to note that from an early age I experienced the world through my physical body. This is where my journey to understand my health begins.