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Why I'm Thanking the Teacher Who Yelled at Me for Missing Class Due to My Illness

Panicked, I quickly exited the girls’ locker room and ran up the stairs to the deck with my tennis uniform on and my bag that was twice the size of me. My heart began to pound louder and louder as I grew more still looking to find my bus. The sun was weighing down on me, and I could feel cold sweat starting to scatter across my forehead. Where was my team? Did they leave without me?

Next thing I knew, a car drove by and you were in it, pointing your finger at me and then waving your hand for me to come towards you. Because I was distracted by my fear that I would never find my bus and end up missing my game, I still pointed to myself and mouthed, “Me?” even when it was obvious you were talking to me. Worried, I weakly walked to your car, feeling faintish and almost ready to cry.

It was as if all the noises around me became one big, silent blur because your voice seemed as loud as someone talking into a megaphone.

You yelled, “Why weren’t you in class today?”

Then your voice grew louder and you shouted, “You shouldn’t even be playing tennis if you missed my class!” You said, “Itʼs against the rules. I am going to go to the principal so he can suspend you from school!”

You then made negative remarks that made me feel like I was a disappointment to the school, to myself, to my family and to my friends.

Basically, you left after yelling at me without allowing me the right to explain myself.

If you want to know, I ended up finally finding my bus that day and had to sit all the way in the back. However, I was relieved because I did not want anyone to hear me break down and cry to my mom over the phone. Surprisingly, somehow I got myself together and won my game, and now I finally realize what I have to thank you for.

Thank you for making me realize how much bigger of a person I am versus how small you tried to make me feel. You allowed me to find out just how proud everyone is of me and how grateful they are to have me in their school, to be a part of their family, and to be my friend. More importantly, thank you for your harsh remarks because you allowed me to think what I truly feel about myself without always having to ask someone for reassurance — especially in a scenario like this, if all the things people (you) said about me are true. Instead, I now know that I am nothing of what you told me and that I am someone who is kind, compassionate, hard-working, driven, respectful and far from a disappointment.

Although I had made an effort to speak to you privately on the first day of school to explain my chronic illnesses to you and to continually communicate with you throughout the year about any problem that might come up or that may need to be resolved, I recognize that some teachers might need an extra meeting with the principal and/or vice principal, and guidance counselor to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Once relieved to know that one of your loved ones also had one of my chronic illnesses as well, I thank you for teaching me that family members who live with a person suffering with a chronic illness everyday may also need to be consistently educated and reminded that their loved one does have a serious health condition and it is not some excuse to get out of things.

While I was struggling with my health that morning and had an emergency that required a trip to the doctors that unfortunately went over your class time, I thank you for opening my eyes to the support of so many other people dealing with the same health problems and who perhaps have experienced this same situation before.

Lastly, while I thank you for making me feel even more motivated to fight through my pain and follow my passions, I also thank you for allowing me to see that many people who are uneducated about a chronic illness may be unable to understand how much it means to a person with a medical condition to be able to find the strength to participate and get involved in school in any way they can.

Ultimately, I made it to school for some part of the day and was so proud of myself because I could have easily given up and not went to school at all. However, I proved myself wrong once again and I truly found out a power and strength inside of me that I may have never discovered without you yelling at me that day.

One message to all the teachers in the world:

Please find it in your heart to understand that a chronic illness is serious and not an excuse to get out of class. In fact, many of us would rather come to school and be your average student than suffer with all the symptoms that may set us back and make it harder for us to keep going on with our lives, even if it just means waking up in the morning and starting our day.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us an unexpected moment with a teacher, parent or student during your (or your loved one’s) school year. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.