I was never confrontational at home. Being the 4th child, shy, having a mother who was a homeless orphan and needed a safe nest, having an active life going on in my head, being well loved and cared for – I had no need to be confrontational.
I wasn’t confrontational in grade school. Learning was great fun. I figured out tricks to deal with the odd way others thought I wrote, tied my shoes, and did just about everything else.
I wasn’t confrontational in junior high, when we could go at our own speed in core subjects and I was done with English by Thanksgiving, and learned not voting for myself in a heads-on-desks vote was stupid, and got to give the graduation speech.
I wasn’t confrontational in high school, where we had courses that challenged us to the max, had free-reign to write strong editorial opinions in the school newspaper, and had free run of the place to write and produce a musical comedy in a large auditorium with 300 cast and crew members – without adults hovering.
I became confrontational in college when the word “can’t” was pervasive.
What was the big deal with prerequisites?
Why couldn’t I take a class outside one of my two majors?
Why on earth did I have to be in the dorm at 10:00, when some of the music school concerts weren’t over by then?
Who said because I joined a sorority I had to go along with the racial & religious discrimination in selectionof new pledges?
Why would you expect me to be the student government vice president and not stand against misrepresentation of student opinions at national conferences?
Why are we paying tuition for a class where the professor hasn’t added one iota to what we paid for when we bought his book?
Since when does the May Queen (NOT a beauty contest) have to keep her mouth shut about the way the admissions procedures really work?
Before I graduated I’d been written up by the New York Times as a crusader in national politics and the Chicago Tribune Sunday editorial board as: “Queen with a Cause.” While in college I had learned that the world didn’t always give every one choices, or freedom, or equal opportunities. I learned first-hand about deceit, most vividly from the student body president who used well-honed debate skills to decimate others’ self-efficacy. (I understand he became a Hollywood divorce attorney). It was sad that he was aided and abetted by one of our professors. It was worse that I was told to “learn from it!” when I criticized the process (but that’s exactly what I did, which has protected me from such abusive techniques on many of occasions).
I lost my naiveté in college. And found my voice.