I was never really good at school, in fact as far as our education system goes I pretty much failed at meeting the typical model of a student, but from this I have discovered my true passion.
I was an undeniably intelligent child, and I relied on that during my elementary school years. I never studied for quizzes or tests and never seemed to have my homework done on time, I never listened to the teacher when they talked or paid attention to the lessons. I had a hard time focusing in class- my mind was always wandering- and I felt far more inclined to reach for one of the many books I kept hidden in my desk than to take notes. In spite of this, I did well on my assignments and my vocabulary and writing abilities were well above average. In middle school I suddenly began having a hard time with my classes. I didn’t intuitively know the material like I’d used to, so I had to study and put in effort in ways I was unaccustomed to. I struggled to organize myself (at one point my binder was actually a trash bag filled with loose papers!), and I had to find a way to balance these new expectations.
As I learned to work through these initial difficulties, more challenges presented themselves. I was reduced to tears at the thought of having to stand and talk before my peers during class presentations. Teachers insisted on one “correct” way of approaching a problem, but I found myself unable to adhere to these directions and was constantly finding different solutions that made more sense to me. I struggled with following strict guidelines, showing my work a certain way in math, conforming the tone of my writing to what we were shown.
However, I still performed well on standardized tests, received a good result on an IQ test, and discovered I knew just as much as, if not more than, my peers did on many subjects. Eventually I began to question the style of my education rather than my own intelligence. I wondered if my academic environment was holding me back. I allowed myself to question what I was being told in the classroom and out, to search for answers that made sense to me, and to allow my unique voice and learning style to mature. This epiphany made a world of difference when it came to my confidence. For the first time I allowed myself to consider pursuing things that I had always been told I was doing wrong; so, I began to write. At first I hid my work from everyone, afraid that the spell would be broken and I would end up right back where I started. Then one day, in an act of boldness, I showed a teacher what I had written. Her reaction surprised and amazed me; she didn’t tell me that I was approaching it wrong or that my writing wasn’t similar enough to what we had learned. She looked up, tears in her eyes, and told me that my voice carried so much raw emotion and that my writing style was unlike anything she had read. Her response gave me the confidence to continue to share my writing and I have received nothing but positive feedback since.
I know that I am destined to be a writer. I know that I have the ability to move and inspire others through my writing. Maybe in some ways I have failed at school (or maybe school failed me), but the same aversion to conformity that had caused me so much trouble in class was exactly what made my writing so great. Now that I know that I don’t need to fit the standard description of a good student to succeed, I no longer care if I’m doing things wrong as long as I’m able to write.