I was bullied out of school at age 16 and finally went back – at 54 | This Happened To Me


See I was homeless for a little while for three or four months. I lived out on the street and here I am now staring at university and a world of possibilities. It’s a 180-degree turnaround from zero to hero. Hi, I’m Brian Petersen and at age 16 I dropped out of school and at age 54, I went back to school. High school for me was very …traumatic in that I was a small kid and being a small kid, I was bullied a lot. In the hallways, I’d constantly get pushed around, punched, kicked. Books thrown on the hallway floor. I got a dead rat and a dead pigeon thrown into my locker. I was put into a locker and they locked the locker. This is the last period of the day on the third floor at the farthest place on the third floor that you could go. They locked me in there and I was in there for an hour until a custodian found me. I remember it being dark and I remember every time I hit the door that it echoed inside the locker. And, “God I hope somebody can hear me.” And then he had to find the combination to the lock. Got the combination to the lock and let me out. And that was the point there that that got me thinking, “You know what, I don’t need this. I’m gone, I’m history, I’m a ghost.” When I had made the conscious decision I was not going back to school I never told my parents for months. At least two months, I never actually told them. Mom was sympathetic, Dad was “Well, you’ve got to do something, go out and do something, get a job, you know, why don’t you go learn a trade? Why don’t you do this?” Dad was full of suggestions. So they said, “Well you can stay at home until you’re 18 and then, when you – the day after your birthday, you’re out.” I looked in the newspaper, one day and there was an ad in the paper, and it said “Dance teachers wanted. No experience necessary, we will train you.” On the final day of exams they kicked me out, saying that I wasn’t good enough. But my job right after that is I sold vacuums. I was a Filter Queen vacuum cleaner salesman. I got a phone call one day after work, and the voice on the other end was the girl who was the manager of the first studio that didn’t like me. She said that her dad was opening up a dance studio and she wanted me to come and work for them. And that was my first job as a dance teacher and that was the one I’ve stuck with since I was what, 19? 19 turning on 20 and now here I am, what, 56? Still doing it. Three years ago I had a mental breakdown Wasn’t doing too well, mentally. About four months later after another hospital stay, my community mental health worker, Tamara, she said, “Well have you ever thought of going back to school?” And I said, “Yeah, about three months ago and I haven’t thought of it since and why are you bringing it up? She said, “I think it would be good for you. I think you would be good in school.” And for the first week, two weeks I basically sat there, “This is all Tamara’s fault. This is why you’re here Tamara is the one who made you go here.” And… It wasn’t until a moment, a moment where I had to do a test in math where I got 100 per cent and “Hmmm. Wow. This is good. Maybe I will stay for a little while longer.” So I’m learning math and and when I got the 100 it felt pretty good. It was the first time in years where I didn’t feel like a failure or a or I’m not as smart. I’ve been told that I have a – I write English very well in that I have a, a thing for it. I’m writing my autobiography, so to speak, about my Sixties Scoop experience. Learning that I have six siblings in New Zealand, in Calgary, here in Manitoba I have two. Two in the States and a sister over in Hungary. Just learning I have all of that family and writing my experience about it. I’m still blown away at the – how quick everything took. One, I go to school. Two, I find out I have siblings. Three, get in contact with said siblings. Four, you’re not as dumb as you think you are. And, here it is now the end of January, and I’m thinking that university is a real thing and everybody who I talk to says, “Yes, it is a real thing.” So I’ve gone from literally living on the streets to “You’re going to university. And you’re going to go with grades that you can be proud of.” It’s almost overwhelming going from where I was to where I am now.