Why I Decided to Become a Teacher

Mistaken Identity + The Internet = Destiny


What follows is an email conversation I had with a few girls in January of 2002. The experience made me decide to become a teacher. The emails are unedited; personal and city names have obviously been removed to protect everyone’s privacy, with the exception of the other Josh Prowse, for whom I was mistaken.

It all started with this note, from K:

On January 27, 2002, 3:35PM K wrote:

Hey, this is K, i was wondering if u are from [city], and if u are u are friends with R right? Well to bitches J and A were drunk and phoned R like last Thursday,and told him i liked him. Well its true, and i was wondering if he likes me and would go out with me and if not who does he like than. Not any chicks from grade 9 or 10 right, cuz i’m enemies with most of them, for instance, J, and A, i hate them, and they are going out with different guys all the time, just like B. And H. yeah so write me back k?

And then my response…

On January 27, 2002 10:48PM Josh Prowse wrote:

Dear K

Sorry, you have the wrong guy. Chicks from grade 9 and 10 are many years in my past.

I’d recommend you go talk to R yourself. Not only would it at least earn you his respect, it would save you the trouble of having to deal with the “drunk bitches.” I’m sure you can track him down, and regardless of what he says (no chance, I’ll think about, how about Friday?), I think you’ll gain a little bit of self-respect too, and maybe you can get a new email address 🙂

[Ed’s Note: K‘s email address was disturbingly self-deprecating]

And I hope you can make peace with some of those enemies. Looking back on high school, one thing you’ll regret is holding weird, petty grudges against people. You’re all going through the same weird crap right now; putting up a tough front and talking shit about them is only asking for trouble, and it’s the same kind of damage you accuse them of, right? Maybe just once or twice, swallow your pride and try to get to know these chicks. One success here is worth a dozen failures, I know. It’s not easy, but you’ll surprise yourself, I think.

Good luck!

:-j

Then K wrote back…

On January 28th, 2002 8:57PM K wrote:

i am so sorry, i thought u were the josh prowse in grade 10 in [city], seriously you gave me great advice. Those girls weren’t actually drunk in the end, One of them like R too and they were trying to get out of him who he liked and it slipped out that they were drunk, a roomer started by someone. To tell u the truth they go to church and are really great christians, i think i’m just jealous cuz i know that i’m too fat and ugly to get R. ANd A is pretty, and they like each other and i’m sure they will be great for each other. We are all only little 16 year olds, i’m sorry to trouble u with my dumb childish problems
Thanx for taking the time to care
K

Then N enters the fray…

On January 28th, 2002 9:39PM N wrote:

so how have u been, my friend K wrote to u, well she isn’t exactly my friend, but just to let u know, she is really lying to u, R is already going out with A, its been like that since graduation in the fall, A was his escort. She is so jealous!!! But u did boost her confidence. Good Job!! LoL. so how old r u?
Love N

And I respond to K

On January 29th, 2002 12:57AM Josh Prowse wrote:

Dear K

No apology necessary, and I’m glad you appreciated my comments and didn’t think I was meddling. I know that sometimes it’s tempting to vent your frustration on other people by talking trash, but I’m really impressed that you were able to step back and see the big picture. I don’t think I would have been able to do that way back in grade 10. You sure you’re only 16? Well, this is a pretty mature response, and I hope you can keep it up; maturity, like honesty and respect, is a gift that you learn to give to yourself, and it’s contagious, too. If you show it with others, they’ll probably show it back. Or maybe I’m just a dreamer. It’s hard being a teenager, especially when it seems to be cooler to be a sour jerk instead of a trusting friend. I prefer to behave in the way that makes me respect myself the most, but it took me a long time to figure that out, and I was past high school peer pressure by then.

Do you really think you’re too ugly and fat to “get” R? Who told you that? Anybody whose opinion you respect? I know it’s hard to ignore mean comments, but in the end, you CHOOSE to believe what you believe. So maybe you’re not an anorexic runway model. Hell, maybe you’re a 4 out of 10. But on what scale? Sure I prefer to stare at beautiful girls. But I have dated some uuuuugly girls. In fact, out of all my past girlfriends, the girl I loved the most was arguably the least physically attractive.

Think about this: life is long, and right now, you are planting the seeds of the woman you’re going to become, you and all of your friends. Let’s pretend that they’re literally seeds. In a little garden. And every time some jerk criticizes you, they’re kicking up the soil or taking a leak on your seeds, OK? You can choose to let the seeds die, in which case the little seeds will always be ugly dirt that smells like pee. Seriously. OR, every time somebody thrashes your garden, you can pat the soil down, put a little fertilizer on there, and give the seeds a good watering to wash the piss away. Corny, eh? But think about it. When somebody slashes you, just smile at them. Smile. They’re putting shit out into the world, and you’re spouting sunshine. That’s it. It’s actually that simple. After a little while, people will see that you’re untouchable. You’ll feel better. You’ll be more confident. And THAT’S what’s attractive. Don’t you prefer confident guys? If YOU think
you’re a loser, why should anybody else think different?

Meanwhile, if you really ARE overweight, go get a mobile hobby. Don’t worry about diet just yet, don’t complain about how fat your are, just start by finding something fun to do that involves exercise, but commit yourself to it a couple of times a week. Maybe recruit a friend; it’s easier if there are more of you involved, for momentum and moral support. The hardest thing is CHOOSING to do this. Once you do, the action will take care of itself.

And as for ugly, one man’s beauty is another man’s nightmare, so don’t write yourself off. When somebody really cares about you, you look better to them every day. Take care of your seeds and one day the flower that blooms will be the gift you give to the person who’s ready to see it.

I don’t think this is easy. This is hard hard hard, and I’m just a stranger babbling away over the internet. But the question is: Do you want to give it a try?

:-j

And my response to N (in hindsight, way too agressive; how was I supposed to know she was 12 years old?!?)…

On January 20th, 2002 1:42AM Josh Prowse wrote:

N

I’m not who K thought I was. Different guy. But we got it straightened out. I don’t know any of you kids. But let’s have a look at what you just told me:

K isn’t your friend –> Hey quick, call CNN. Would a friend say the things you’re saying about her? Why exactly ISN’T she your friend?
K is lying to me –> If you’re not her friend, why would I believe anything you said about her? And how would you know what she told me?
K is jealous –> Welcome to life. Everybody gets jealous.
I boosted her confidence. LoL. –> Why is boosting her confidence funny? Better to tear her down?

I guess what I want to understand is, even if I WAS t
he person you thought I was, why would you want to tell me these things? Maybe K wasn’t being as level-headed as she could’ve been, but didn’t she get pushed into responding? So now, wouldn’t it be better to approach the whole situation with everybody’s best interests at heart? Couldn’t you have explained your side of the story without trying to mock or judge anybody? Wouldn’t that have been just as effective, and wouldn’t anyone, including K or the real Josh, have thought better of you?

K knows her mistake; she trashed people because she was a bit insecure and felt threatened. What’s your excuse?

I’m not judging– I’m sure you’re not a catty, spiteful wench or anything– but just realize that everything you say has a consequence, so treat your words (spoken or typed) with respect.

Put good out into the world, girl.

And thanks for the love.

:-j

K continues the conversation…

On January 29th, 2002 1:33PM K wrote:

Josh
man too bad all guys didn’t think that way! I am over weight and i know all that. It only bothers me when i know i can’t get a guy because of it. Actually, i hate calling my self that because i strongly believe in God, and we’re made in his image and to call myself or any one else ugly is insulting God. Plus when i got myself into this mess, i didn’t realize that A already was going out with R. And i think i liked him because he has a lot of improfections, it made me feel like some one else is as imperfect as me. Oh geeze, like that was mature, lol!!! Any way i was upset also because he took her to grad, i mean grade 12 grad is really important and i wanted to be their, for my own selfish reasons, i mean i didn’t even know anyone who was graduating. A‘s brother at least was graduating, and she had an extra ticket so her mom said her boyfriend (R) should come, I guess since he already had a ticket, but was going to sit with them anyway, i thought that if it was true that R liked me that he would want me to come and ask A for the other ticket, but i didn’t realize that they were already going out. My bad!!!! I don’t know what else to say i mean u know the right things to say to give me that little boost!! I only have one request, please don’t use profanity in your letters, i know i did in one of mine, but i am a child of God and a good Christian, it would be greatly appreciated.

[Ed’s Note: Shit. Sorry about that.]

Do u go to church? It really is great. i love the electric guitar, and drum songs. lol.
Thanks once again, great advcie
Love K

And N‘s comeback…

On January 29th, 2002 1:47PM N wrote:

Josh
First of all u don’t even know who we are. So don’t judge me,k? The reason me and K aren’t friends is cuz i’m 12 and she is 17, i home school, she’s in public, i live in a town 45 minutes away. The reason i knew about the email is cuz we happen to go to the same church. Along wiht the other girls, and R. And how can K of not lyed, when A and R are going out, and A just got babtized and wouldn’t think of getting drunk. plus K sent A death threats, and i’m sorry but even though A is 15, i happen to be in her same youth group, if u went to church u’d know what that is. And yeah i was sincere when i told u that u boosted her confidence, she needs that, and when i wrote lol, i wasnt trying to be light hearted, i know that u don’t think our childish problems are important to us, but being part of a group helps, and K isn’t and u made her feel good. Man learn how to take a compliment (good job!!!! Hint Hint) SOrry that was harsh but i had to get u back for calling me a basically a bitch.

[Ed’s Note: Yes, I had that coming.]

I’m sorry if u took it the wrong way. And if u were the josh from our town/area than he would understand, cuz R and him are good friends,and he would have been on A, J,and my side not K‘s

She doesn’t have any friends barely which is sad but she happens to have bad attidtude, which u know doesn’t help. And i’m sorry about my grammer, this might be hard to understand, but once again, i’m only 12 and home schooling isn’t half as good as public.

One more comment, i’m over weight too, guys won’t go out with me they call me ugly, but i live with it, and i’m not mad at like A and J for being pretty, its God’s true gift,and while they have their gift of beauty, i’ll have my gift some where, maybe its my confidence even though i’m ugly. I don’t know but i do know i have a some kind of part to play in this world, everyone does, straight out of the Bible. So yeah. I don’t know what else to say.

Love N

P.s. Thanx, even though i saw red at ur letter at first i realized that what u were accusing me of was sorta true. U should be a counsellor (sp), seriously,kids of my age and adults, really could use your words of wisdom.

Wow. I mean, wow. My response…

On January 29th, 2002 2:13PM Josh Prowse wrote:

Dear N

Well, we’re learning about the limitations of email. Sometimes the fullness of the thought or emotion gets lost in the electrons.

I wasn’t judging you (see where I wrote “I’m not judging–“?). All I was trying to do is reflect your own actions back at you from a different perspective. Maybe I was a bit harsh, but I had all these weird emails flying at me with people trashing each other, and I was trying, perhaps too strongly, to get people to see the basic wrongness in how they were behaving.

And when you said “Good Job!!!” followed by “LoL”, I took it as a compliment, but it sounded like you were laughing at K, and that upset me. Sorry if I misinterpreted.

And actually, I DO think your problems are important. Why else would I spend any energy replying to your emails? I’m not on anybody’s “side” N; this whole thing makes me sad, and I’m trying to be an impartial mediator.

I went to Catholic school for 13 years, so I do know about youth groups. I’m not religious now, because for 13 years I watched religious people, students, teachers and clergy, break all the commandments in the Bible and bring nothing good to our community. Some people don’t want to be, or know how to be, kind and happy, regardless of what they claim to believe. If they learn this through religion then that’s great.

So maybe use this experience as a lesson on how to be good to other people (and to yourself in the process). If religion is so important to you and your friends, you shouldn’t need an agnostic like me to tell you to be nice to each other. Remember “turn the other cheek”? How about “treat others as you would have them treat you”? A wasn’t kind to gossip about K on the phone, and K wasn’t kind to act as she did, either. It’s really simple. Forgive, support, love, forever and ever, amen. I know it’s not easy now (it doesn’t get easier as you get older), but you’d be amazed at how receptive people can be to kindness when you give them a chance.

As for your PS, that’s way too mature a perspective for somebody who’s 12. I’m impressed. Now that you appreciate what’s happened, what can you do to make amends? It’s worth it, honestly.

One last thing: God’s true gift is not beauty. I don’t think He’d like us pretending to know which of his gifts is better than any other. The best part of life is searching for and discovering all the gifts you bring to the world, and it’s through this search that you can probably give your best gift to God.

:-j

ps–You spelled counsellor perfectly. Thanks for compliment.

And now, the infamous A steps up to the mic!

On January 29th, 2002 2:40PM A wrote:

Hey Josh,
I kno
w that you are probably really sick of us kids sending you these dumb emails, right? But I would just like to let you know that me and K have it all worked out. I mean we are friends, and to let a guy get in between us was really silly!! no guy is worth a friendship! K said you gave her so much hope, I would like to thank you for that because ever since me and R started going out she has been up set. I know I’m only 15, but I realize that being over weight isn’t that easy, she tells me she is fat and ugly all the time, but to be honest with you she isn’t over weight at all.

[O]K, i am like 5’9″ and weigh like 120 lbs, and she is like 5′ 7″ and weighs like 133 lbs or something, I don’t know about u but I don’t call that fat. Also I would like to explain what happened that night in my opinion.

That night I was at my best friends, J, I’m sure you’ve heard that name!!! We are writing midterms right now and we were suppose to be studying, me and J live close to each other and, near the store where R works. So when we had studied for like 2 hours we decided we wanted to have a snack. So when we didn’t have any cream cheese dip, we thought instead of driving up town, ( u know how teens well do anything to be able to drive) to the grocery store there, we walked to the mall that is like practically across the street from J‘s house. R was working that night and we said that since he got off at nine that we wouldn’t come over because we had an exam the next day but we would call him around 9:30. so we had a snack and than phoned R, N, wanted him to know that she liked him so we told him that, than we weren’t planning on telling him about K liking him because, well she probably wouldn’t want him to know. But he had his friends over, one happening to be the Josh Prowse from [city], and they kept asking who else and we let it slip out. The next thing me and J know we had people coming up to us at school saying why were we drunk and about to toilet paper the church we went to, and that we told K to go “f” off R, his house is right beside the church, (small town) K later admitted that she started the rumors, cuz she was mad, and she had every right to be mad at us.

R feels really bad because we made him feel like he’s in the middle, so he told K that she was beautiful and if he wasn’t going out with me at the time he’d go out with her, which was not a lie, he would, because like I mentioned before, she isn’t that ugly.

Any way I’m so happy that you said whatever you said to K, because she had the courage to confront us all personally, and polite which really helped the situation.

May God Bless you in everything you do.
Here are some verses that would be cool for you to look up, in the Bible, and if you have time pass them on to people over the net, its important to spread the word of God!!

[Ed’s Note: Okalee-dokalee!]

  1. Proverbs 3:3
  2. Colossians 3: 2-3
  3. Romans 8:31
  4. Romans 8:28

I love you and May God be with You,
A
Keep on smiling for Jesus!

And finally, the capper, from 12 year-old, home-schooled N:

On January 29th, 2002 5:46PM N wrote:

Thanx once again,
But since you are probably sick of us 12, 15, and 16 year olds sending you email i will quit telling you my problems, i got the real Josh’s email and Rs and all the words that were on your email from K got totally erased fromt the big picture, and we wrote encouraging emails to both of them. Just to let you know, because of you 5 friendships might have been saved, and also became stronger.
Bye,
N 🙂

I was sitting in a cubicle in a Burnaby office when I received this last letter. My eyes started to well up. The part of me that I always joked was “dead inside” seemed to be waking up. I looked down at my keyboard, my desk, the cube walls, and wondered, “What the hell am I doing with my life?”

This summer I was accepted to teacher’s college, and by next September, with any luck, I’ll be twisting young minds on a full-time basis.

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