Joshua Jackson

Learning from old mistakes

Source: Scholastic Action
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This profile is an excerpt from Got Issues Much?, by Marie Morreale and Randi Reisfeld. In this new book, famous people talk about tough times they’ve faced and how they got past them.

Dawson’s Creek’s Joshua Jackson talks about his parents’ divorce, getting kicked out of high school, learning, and life.

Joshua Jackson was probably best known for his role in the Mighty Duck movies — until he landed the role of Pacey on Dawson’s Creek. Josh has been lucky. His dream of being an actor came true easily. But his personal life was filled with problems.

When he was 10 years old, Josh’s parents divorced. “My mother and father breaking up was tough,” Josh recalls. “It was really painful because everything you trusted and felt secure about fell apart. After their divorce, anything could happen.”

Today, when looking back on those years, Josh admits that he became a handful. Most of his bad behavior took place in school.

“I used to get into so much trouble,” Josh confesses, “cracking jokes and talking in class. I would get teachers so mad, they would tell me, ‘Just get out of the class!'”

Though Josh was often absent from the classroom, either because he was sent to the principal’s office or was on a movie location, he still earned decent grades. But that didn’t cut it with some of his teachers.

“At 15, I didn’t take things seriously,” he admits. “I got kicked out of high school twice — once for attitude and once for lack of attendance. I’d like to say it was because I was working a lot. But I was just a pain in the butt.”

Embarrassed and Ashamed

When it became obvious that he could not return to high school, Josh ended up studying on his own. In 1997, he earned his GED (general equivalency diploma). When a teenager graduates from high school, it’s usually time to celebrate. But getting his GED was anything but a happy experience for Josh.

He was so embarrassed and angry at himself that he couldn’t finish high school and graduate with his friends. He felt taking just one test to get his GED didn’t really prove anything. “I’ve never been more ashamed of myself in my life than when I got to the end of that test and just went, ‘Oh, God, I can’t believe I just did this,'” he says.

It was difficult for Josh to accept that he had wasted those precious years, when he should have been learning in school. It was something he could never get back. But with the help of those closest to him, Josh was able to learn from his mistake. Of that time, Josh explains, “I went from being a very well-off little kid to having a couple of rough years, to rebuilding. My mother did that. She and I are very close.”

Learning Is Great

Today, Josh still enjoys being a cutup and making people laugh. But when he isn’t in front of the cameras, you’ll usually find Josh’s nose buried in a book. “Learning in general is great,” he says.

Josh’s attitude has changed so much that he told a reporter that acting isn’t the only dream in his life. He would also like to be an architect. “I’ll go to school after [Dawson’s Creek] and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life,” he says.

Josh is really excited about the future. As for the past, he knows he can’t change that. But one of the reasons he’s been so open about his school struggles is he hopes it might help a troubled teenager today. Maybe some fans — even just one — can learn from his mistakes.

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