There are two blog prompts in this post. You must complete one of them by Sunday April 30th. You must complete the other by Sunday May 7th. Prompt 1: Write a valediction. A valediction is a formal farewell, like the speech given by a student at a graduation ceremony. Imagine that you’re the student who’s going to speak at graduation. Write the speech that you’d like to give. It should be long enough that it would take at least five minutes to speak aloud, and it should be appropriate for the audience (your classmates, parents, teachers, and administrators) and the occasion (your graduation from this prestigious institution).
From the moment I first stepped into school, one day long ago in Kindergarten, I was shadowed by the expectation that I had to do good. Not just good, even, but great. I had to be above average. On my reports, teachers would say, “She’s a good learner…when she’s interested in the subject.” Despite my selective interest, I qualified for GT, where the “Gifted and Talented” kids went…and then I fell out of GT and into whatever program was for students who were slightly less Gifted and Talented than the GT kids, but supposedly more Gifted and Talented than the average kids, at least at doing logic puzzles…and then I fell out of that place, too. My mom told me it wasn’t because I lacked “talent,” however that’s defined; it was simply because I didn’t care for it. I think that’s weird because I LOVE logic puzzles, but I guess the rest of the stuff they made us do just wasn’t interesting to my little elementary self.
Fast forward through Middle School to High School, and it’s still the same pattern. I’m held to high expectations, but don’t actually think much of the majority of material taught. I like to doodle on papers and daydream while teachers give instructions – shoutout to all the people that ever sat next to me and explained what we were doing in class because I wasn’t paying attention. When it came time to choose classes every year, I would pick advanced math, and science, and English, and history, simply because I was expected to. It wasn’t about how naturally good I was – otherwise I promise I would never have made it into AB Calculus – it was about whether or not I could commit myself to something I didn’t find interesting, just like in elementary school. Only this time, if I allowed myself not to care, I would lose a lot more than just membership in a club. So, obviously, I learned the lesson and applied myself diligently to all my classes. The end, right? Well, not quite…
You see, of the 39 students in the top ten percent of our school as of December 2016, I’m number 38. Of the 41 students in the top ten percent before then, I was number 41. I’m barely holding on. I’m sure if I looked now, I’d be much lower, because I honestly don’t understand Calculus at all. Funnily enough, it seems that despite what teachers, administrators, colleges, applications, other students, and society tells you, grades aren’t everything. From the moment we step foot in school, it’s a daily grind to make the best grades, ace that test, turn in that homework, do it all again the next day. A daily pattern of stress and effort.
Why? There should be more to life than slaving away for some numbers on a piece of paper. If Sims 4 has taught me anything, it’s that it’s fine to be a “B” or a “C” student as long as you spend your extra time developing skills and interests to take with you as an adult.
“So???” I can hear you asking, “Didn’t you just change your point? What are you trying to say?”
It’s video game logic 101. You’ve got to develop your skills. Capitalize on what you’re good at, and whatever you do, figure something out and stick to it. You can explore your options for a while, but wait too long and it will be too late to commit to and develop an area. Schools will try to tell you to only develop your brain, specifically through taking advanced classes or scoring high on standardized tests. However, this doesn’t account for the amazing painters, or singers, or dancers, or race-car drivers. Perfect SAT scores don’t prepare you to splint an elephant’s leg, or teach you how to form a connection with orphaned children. AP classes don’t teach you the joy of chasing lightning bugs in the moonlight, or the rush created from white water rafting. School is important, and applying yourself to things you don’t find interesting is a part of life, but there is so much more to living than just grinding away at homework. Find your passions, find your interests, find your loopholes, and take ’em for everything they’ve got.