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Being able to see my own potential happened fairly late in my teens and incrementally from then on.
The turning point arrived when I failed 11th grade. In the German school system that means having to redo the entire school year. I essentially let myself fail because I was completely burned out from school and suffering from what I see now to have been depression. All educational emphasize at my high school had been put on the sciences (math, physics, chemistry, biology all to a very advanced level) which had the consequence that arts, music, and sports kept getting cut more and more out of the schedules. This lopsided education numbed me until I gave up.
I'm an artist and earn my living with my art now. In retrospect it grieves me seeing how close my spirit was to throwing in the towel. The reason why I survived this dark time was because my parents, who were very worried about my mental state at that time, let me change schools.
For 11th-13th grade (Germany's "gymnasium system had at this point still 13 grades)I commuted to an all-girls school with a social science bend to it. Maybe it had also to do with it being located in a convent but for the first time I encountered two or three teachers who made me feel like I too have the smarts needed to not just make it in this world but to have a worth. I all of a sudden was in an environment in which I was able to allowed myself to believe that I am actually smart and acceptable to society. I finally felt, even though just subconsciously, addressed as a whole human being rather than just an inadequate left brain hemisphere.
I had an epiphany in German class in which my teacher, who was the most eloquent and bright woman I had encountered so far, called to our attention the simple fact that if we don't know the answer to something then we only need to grab an encyclopedia and look it up... who woul've known?! Up until that point I had always marveled at how some kids always new answers to things teachers had not yet talked about. Had they been born embedded with facts in their brains? From then on there was no stopping me.
Now, after 6 years of intense art school, I am at a point where I am living a life full of urgency and meaning lead every day by my passion.
I can't thank my soul enough for hanging in there during those dark years and for initiating my awakening.