Regarding ambition,

I’m finally starting to learn the difference between being ahead and doing just right. Yes, just right sometimes means average, and average feels unacceptable for students who have been on gifted/honors/AP tracks for most of their American education. I remember being in a regular classroom in sixth grade and the first semester of seventh grade, and I felt my brain cells were dying. Most of all, I felt less, because I wasn’t ahead with the gifted kids and I wanted to be gifted. I so deserved to get out of the regular class. Finally, I entered the overachieving culture of gifted/honors/AP students, and I proved myself through grades. Unfortunately, that also cushioned my ego, making it very sensitive to my grade fluctuations, and my dependence on grades for confidence took a toll on my sanity and soon, my grades (yes, ironically). I starting pulling all-nighters in 8th grade, and this habit affected my family until I graduated high school. I thought these all-nighters gave me extra time to do perfect work. It did give me extra time, but I didn’t produce perfect work. It was also torture. When I don’t sleep, my body feels this itch beneath my skin like I have to move and work until I collapse and sleep for 20+ hours, which is what I did on Friday afternoons to Saturday mornings. I was torturing and isolating myself for my grades while my classmates seemed to live relaxed, appropriately social lives.

While I promised myself that college will be different, I starting to pull this again second semester of college when I felt I was struggling in two classes, and I soon withdrew for reasons that will require another blog post. I re-took some courses at a local university, and I learned that average behavior, not perfectionist behavior, was what earned me my straight A’s. I completed work according to the teacher’s criteria, handed in on time, and received the grades I deserved and fixed what I got wrong. In other words, I finally grew up and let go of the world where I constantly had the advantage of better teachers, more opportunities, and a better learning environment over my peers, because that world is not real life. I had to re-learn how to live rationally rather than competitively, and most importantly, how to be sane, content, and smart.

I know I’m not the only one who suffered this. Plenty of students put on the mask that everything is okay when they just want to crawl into a hole and sleep for two days. I’m not the only one, right?


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