I had a visible skin rash, I never felt like I belonged with my peers, I was mercilessly bullied by 3 boys (physically) and 4 girls (verbally) from middle school through high school, academically I barely got by, and I was terribly insecure around girls and the cool kids. I found relief with a fringe group of guys that drank beer and smoked cigarettes but were exceedingly smart and articulate.
Thanks to two early mentors, one who was the technical director of our semipro church theater productions and the other my high school English teacher/drama club (including Stage Crew) director, I began to have dreams of working as a technician in professional theater, maybe even Broadway!
It would be that high school teacher that helped me to make the first steps toward my dreams. By giving me the courage and support to NOT go to college he changed my life forever.
That teacher would also introduce me to my next mentor who started to polish my dreams into achievable goals as I worked very hard for 5 years in the film industry, a sound studio, and many summer stock and national tour productions.
Finally I was in the right place at the right time and partnered with three other men in a fledgling industry called industrial theater. I spent the next 32 years as Production Manager, Stage Manager and Audio Engineer in what became a successful career. Oh yes, I got to work on Broadway.
There is just no substitute for young people bonding with caring adults and those adults vesting in the future of those youngsters.