I'm Kind of a Jackass | Teen Ink

I'm Kind of a Jackass

December 13, 2022
By janegoldman15 BRONZE, Denver, Colorado
janegoldman15 BRONZE, Denver, Colorado
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

“You’ve got the talent, you've got the grades, it’s just that you're kind of a jackass.”

Those last five words, spoken by an athletic recruitment consultant, have stuck with me and eminently impacted my sense of self. I acquired this label because I'm a competitive, Type A student and athlete, but the surface judgment and disdain weigh me down.

The truth is, I know I’m a bit much. I’m a smart aleck who enjoys playing Devil’s advocate with my parents. I’m a practical joker who relishes teasing my friends (it’s exceptionally rewarding when they finally get my audacious sense of humor); and despite these defense mechanisms that shield my underlying vulnerability, I’m an ambitious, persistent individual who wants to succeed, even when pejorative labels like "jackass" are used to portray me. 

So, if I have this awareness, then why did this comment loom over me for such a prolonged period of time? How could five little words from someone who hardly knew me have such a remarkable impact? It’s because the label emphasizes a small, shallow part of my story, neglecting to present a full picture of who I am. It doesn't illustrate the compassionate and understanding person I continue to become. 

Reflecting back, I first felt the “jackass”  facade breaking down the summer before my junior year. I had earned an internship shadowing a primary care and infectious diseases physician at Denver Health, a public health hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center. While I’ve always been interested in a career in medicine, I couldn't fully grasp the reasons why. Moreover, I did not anticipate how profoundly affected I’d be from interning at a public health hospital. 

I was wholly captivated when I interviewed those who were experiencing life-threatening diseases, engaged by their unique stories. I began to understand that I had much in common with people whose lives were, at least on the surface, very different from my own. I found we shared an important and familiar connection: I, too, was struck by the fear, anger, isolation, and grief caused by illness when both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer in February of 2021. 

I knew these feelings all too well, and this helped me to understand why I wanted to be a doctor. I have compassion, and I want to help people find their way past pain. I want to be able to make the same impact that I needed through my own emotional turmoil.

Gradually, I have let down my guard, having formed deeper connections with my fellow human beings. I now understand that I don’t always have to shield myself with a callous front—and yet this hasn't made me any less “Jane”. 

What I've come to discover is that, no matter how people see me, I know myself to be a person of courage. While I suffered a personal trauma no one should have to face, I had the bravery and will to pick myself up. Moving forward with conviction has been one of my most accomplished moments. I believe this is what truly speaks to my character—valor. I aspire to kindle a positive impact that goes beyond medicine, no matter how challenging that can be. 

In overcoming the ordeal of my parents’ illness and the challenging transition to boarding school my senior year, I’ve prevailed through ineffable obstacles. Knowing that my strength stretches beyond what words can describe, I am dauntless. If anything makes me a so-called jackass now, it's my ability to face adversity right in the eye, grin, and say “Bring it!”

This deplorable label doesn't define me. I refuse to dull myself down, and I decline to let my struggle subvert my strength. If being a jackass makes me the tenacious, loving, and unique individual that I am, then I accept this label. I— Jane Goldman, am unashamedly, pridefully who I am.


Copyright 2022 Jane Goldman

The author's comments:

In the fall of 2022, I was looking to get recruited for college athletics. While my track record was presented nicely and I was a strong athlete, I was told by a recruitment consultant that he and my coaches were concerned my personality was not a fit for many programs. After enduring endeavors at home and undergoing a personal trauma all within a short period of time, I was closed off from the world and developed a cold front. 

People that didn't understand scrutinized me and colleges shied away from picking up a kid with "baggage". This really bothered me for a while. It was interfering with my perception of self and made me doubt my worth as an individual. However, after writing about the impact this had on me, I really realized this wasn't me at all. While I faced a struggle that pulled me down, I had the ability to pick myself up and move forward with certitude. 

I was later accepted early decision into my dream school- Tulane. I will be pursuing the premedical track with a double major in chemistry along with English, continuing to write. 

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