From a young age, our minds are programmed.
When I was young, I was once rude about another girl (who was actually my friend) because she didn’t come into school often; this was because I had been programmed to think that good attendance would reward you, and bad attendance would not. I did not think about how it would make her feel or why she might not be in very much. I guess I was just upset about her not being in much. She didn’t mind though; she was that kind of person. But the thing is: schools reward pupils for perfect attendance, 100% — you have to be perfect, perfect, perfect, or perhaps just lucky.
It doesn’t mean you’re better than someone else if you go in every day, though schools decide that you are. There are children who are sickly, there are those who suffer emotional problems too, there are those who are grieving and perhaps need a nice trip out to distract them, but they will not get it, because only those with perfect attendance earn a treat. We think this is fine, but it is not. Without understanding why the pupils don’t go in, they are punished. That will have an impact on the way they feel about themselves, and perhaps make them feel even more isolated.
There are other things too that are programmed into us when we are young: I never once played rugby when I was at school. Although, I guess I’m grateful, I think I should have been made to, like the boys were. Many of the boys didn’t want to but they had to, and some of the girls wanted to but weren’t allowed, because it wasn’t a ‘girl’s sport’. These little things, they all change our mind, from the pure thing it was when we were born, to something very confused.
Where do we stand in the world? What is our worth? Who are we? What dictates us?
Children and young people with mental health conditions is on the rise, and it’s because of the way society breaks us. It confuses us with so many different things, one thing says this is acceptable, yet another says this — we become so overwhelmed by all of society’s rules that we can’t deal with them, and then we end up as ants, carrying several times our body weight, before eventually being crushed.
What do you think? Are our minds really our own?