I did a lot of thinking today about high school and its affect on my future. One thing I thought about was plant and animal. It was triggered again.
I get really, really sick of hearing this nonsense about the animal students being More Academically Driven and More College Bound.
That is exactly what Mrs. Super-Biased, Super-Gossip Picks-Favourite Spain told me sophomore year (I still do like her for her good traits, though the less favoured are noted as well). I forgave her for it then. I have since discovered that it seems to be the Chosen Script of people who are very pro-animal and not so hot on plant. Mrs. Spain sat me down and spoon-fed me rubbish about how I was a bookworm who liked to "learn for learning's sake" (true) and how I wouldn't feel right in the plant department (because that was obviously her place). How I needed to be in a department like animal, which is so academically-focused and college-bound. She told me I could get to natural resource careers without majoring in natural resources, that it wasn't fit for me, that she would much rather see me in a major like vet. What bugged me the most was that she didn't commence the tirade with "this is just my opinion, but..." she just went on full-blast as if they were complete facts of the animal department. That the animal department deserves the bookworms.
Really? Animal, huh? (The following are not my actual level-headed opinions, these are my I'm-currently-enraged-and-things-are-out-o
Yes, there are stereotypes there. Yes, I think of certain faces as I say those.
I went to Watsonii to speak with her during lunch after Spain talked to me. Watsonii was astounded that Spain would say such things, would push me so hard. When I asked her what was true, she didn't put slander to animal's name. She said it was right for some people. She disagreed fully--plant can be just as academic, natural resources the most. It can be just as college based--many students early applied and knew exactly where they wanted to go. What struck me the most about her response was that she put her hand to her heart, smiled at me and told me the trick was to follow my heart. "This above all, to thine own self be true," she reported, and I pinpointed it for the worn-out quote she keeps near her door. I almost cried. I may have. I felt so alive and rooted, loved and supported, not smothered and forced. I knew plant was the right place for me.
I said "can" for plant in relation to academics and college. It CAN be very based on those.
I was in plant. I tried my best (or slightly less in some classes) and got very close to top marks in everything--vocational and academic. I was third in class. I applied for university in England and got in. Watsonii was COMPLETELY supportive in writing me recommendation letters and a 48-line statement about me to put into my English UCAS application. McSpleeny tried her best (or slightly less in some classes) and got very close to top marks in everything--vocational and academic, as with me. She was valedictorian. She was accepted into every college she applied to, including the agricultural division of Cornell. She's going to Commonwealth college. Brittles worked very hard, and so many others. There are other plant majors that were not interested in being academic or hard-working students and had no or little interest in college. I know many plant majors who tended to mature later--Kleppy is now doing remarkably in college and having a good time of it, while Makuchan dropped from Bridgewater. There were classes to complain about--ridiculous sheets on plants that seemed pointless, model greenhouses and insects. In the end they have been useful.
I remember being in Spanish senior year with entirely animal majors (possibly ONE other plant but I don't think even that). They cheated, copied, did things last-minute and sloppily. There were classes that were ceaselessly complained about, teachers complained about as with plant. Many animal majors I know didn't try to go to college, or went and dropped. There are others who tried hard, did well and were very college-bound. It's our own integrity business. Be a black sheep in a black herd, be a white sheep in a black herd, join a white herd--wherever it is you want to be, choose it. You'll find the groups in either department.
It is a CHOICE. Choosing plant or animal? That's a choose. Choosing to be academic-minded and a hard worker in all classes and situations? That's a choose. Choosing to do extra-curriculars and get involved with college trips and the like? That's a choice, and not a limiting one--McSpleeny was in arbor, wanted to go to college for vet and was doing cow show. She got to do what she wanted. And choosing to be college-based? That is a CHOICE.
It is not an animal vs. plant world in that aspect. It is a Who Do You Want to Be? question. Yes, we have to follow our hearts. Not biased beechy teachers or guidance councillors (apologies, they all have redeeming points). It is to our own selves we have to be true.
I learned more from plant than I could ever have imagined, things I loved and yearned to learn. Life lessons. Being around Watsonii and Lee and Mertz and Nelson and even Brodeur, it helped me, it was right for me. I could feel it deep down.
Would I have fit in with the animal department? To be honest, probably yes! I probably would have done just fine. I would have ended up in vet and tried in all my classes. Some students would have rolled their eyes at my scholarly tenacity and at my strange behaviour--I am not the run of the mill bookworm. I could have easily been in animal. Did I choose that? No. Was plant better for me? I don't know, I can't compare a solid to a theoretical--but I know plant WAS good for me.
So yes, it hurts to be reminded that there are so many at the school who think plant is made up a bunch of dossers who'd rather poop in the middle of the boy's lav than pick up a pen to work, a book to study, a college book to research for the future. It hurts to be reminded that many think of animal students as angels representing all that is academic and college-ripe. It hurts that it always feels Animal claws and clings to every student when they already have 90% of applicants to begin with. It just reminds me how glad I am Watsonii had Plant Guides, at least to start working toward some sense of equality. I love that woman.
I support plant and I support animal. Above that, I support following our own hearts and trusting ourselves.
I am a plant student at reasonably prestigious university in England studying exactly what I wanted to study; I have performed well in high school and in university; I got to do whatever extra curriculars I pleased. But what matters to me more than that, more than petty duels between photosynthesis and movement? It. Felt. Right.
(In a slightly amused tone, thank Gods for SOME of the teachers at that school, or my mind would have exploded from the presence of the others. Also, when I wrote that fantasy-fiction piece freshman year about there being a feud between plant and animal, and someone--probably Rachel--replied telling me I had no idea what I was on about? I'm going to continue to debate that. There is a feud. I'm not in the middle, I'm off to the side working to start the peace signings.)