I loved words, writing, making up stories, so when I was 9 my favourite school subject was composition. Every week one child from my class was chosen to go the Principal's office for a special award.
Each work I would try hard to write a story that was good enough to get an award, but other girls were chosen and never me.
One day my teacher whispered that I needed to stay back while everyone else went to lunch. I assumed she must have really liked the story I had written earlier.
I remember sitting down my feet nervously kicking the floor waiting for my teacher to tell me how wonderful my story was. When she finally started to speak, I felt the glare of her words.
"Leah what do you think you were doing? You were asked to write about a day at the zoo and while the rest of the class wrote about sunshine, delicious picnics and beautiful animals eating grass, you wrote about lions and tigers escaping, families running to escape the wild animals and a thunderstorm."
I agreed and kept waiting for the praise that never came, instead my beloved teacher thought I was making fun of the topic. Honestly, I wanted to be different and imagine what would happen.
In the 1960s creativity and imagination were frowned upon for young girls in suburban Sydney.
I felt so misunderstood and I couldn't cry as I was so upset and disappointed. The teacher promised if I never used my imagination again, she would not tell my parents. I never did, and she kept her promise.
That was the day when I felt for the first time how different I was from my other classmates, I mean I already felt different. I was a big girl with dark brown hair and untidy and loud, so I stood out in a sea of neat blond hair blue eyed girls who never ever used their imagination.
For the rest of my school days I keep to writing about sunshine and all the animals were securely locked up. I thought being different would feel good and I would be rewarded but I learnt the hard way I would always be different, and I should try hard not to stand out.
When was the first time you felt different or were made to feel different? What was it like? Did you embrace the feeling?
A Moodscope member