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I never thought that being intelligent could be so draining and make me feel so empty. Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to make a change in the world. I wanted to do something to impact the lives of those around me and to make my loved ones proud. It didn’t matter what I did, as long as I did something to bring more positivity into our world and to show people I was smart. I would see historical figures like Albert Einstein, who created the equation E=mc^2 and produced theories on relativity, and Leonardo da Vinci, who created the Mona Lisa, and the The Last Supper pieces that are still known to this day, and think, “Hey, I can be like them one day. Maybe I can invent or create something new that will change the world. Something that will be remembered for a long time.”
I can tell you for a fact that being intelligent isn’t always as delightful and easy as it seems. It can truly be a bloodbath for many. Intelligence isn’t only something you’re born with, but it’s something you need to exercise and improve on. The amount of time, energy, and sacrifice it takes to actually be considered “smart” is ludicrous. I’ve spent so much of my time setting the highest and most exhausting expectations for myself to achieve what I’ve seen others do to make my family and friends proud of me. I’ve had times where I truly put my whole heart and my precious time into something and I receive results that aren’t as great as I expected.
Freshman year was by far my worst and the most stressful year of my life. I assumed that I could easily balance all of these CP classes with an AP class when I decided to take them. I was cocky and naive in my actual abilities as an average student. I knew I was smart but I didn’t know my breaking point.
I began to compare myself to others, listening to them speak as if they had perfectly memorized the book. I would read what my peers wrote and began to shrink further and further into my chair, disappointed and embarrassed that I couldn’t write as beautifully and fluidly as they could. Each sentence my peers would write was like an elegant, clean brush stroke across a canvas. My canvas, however, looked like a mess in my eyes. I couldn’t ever seem to get what I wanted onto paper as neatly as some of my other peers. I began to push myself further and further, slowly breaking down from exhaustion. I felt lost, only thinking about how successful those around me were, but I never took the time to reflect on the what I’ve accomplished. Because of this, my love for learning began to slowly plummet.
I was ridiculed by my peers for asking questions a large amount of the time. This began to eat at my confidence, until I barely had any left. I was simply a curious student who wanted to make sure what I knew was correct. As I grew older, I started to see school differently. It wasn’t all fun and games anymore. School became a competition. We weren’t young adolescents who simply wanted to learn. We now were adolescents competing against each other. Seeing who had the most A’s, the highest GPA, and who would get the most Honour Roll awards. I’d see my friends showing their Honor Roll awards or flaunting their letterman jackets that reflected what they had become; successful. I told myself I wasn’t like them, even though those who cared about me swore with their whole heart and assured me that I was. I just knew I could do better. I could achieve what those around me have, if I just put in the work. This didn’t make me feel better physically and mentally, though. My health slowly plummeted like an anchor and my mind began to fog up with negative thoughts. Thoughts that told me that I can’t succeed. That told me to give up. I became tired and uninterested during some points in freshman year. I just wanted a break and not have to worry about others and start worrying about myself. I needed to realize that it’s my own self that I should be looking at and seeing what I could to do to improve mys skills and what I could achieve, rather than trying to follow the path of someone else and achieve what they have.
When I began sophomore year, I walked in with a new mindset. I was going to try my best to accomplish what I wanted. I wasn’t going to follow the footprints of someone else but create my own. Become someone I want to be. To this day, I still dream of impacting this world positively, leaving a piece of myself for people to remember as the years go by. Intelligence is quite funny. It can be a brutal shadow that messes with you but to every dark side, there is a tunnel of light that will lead you to a happy ending.
As an intelligent person, I’m supposed to know everything. I’m supposed to achieve everything that is thrown in my direction. I’m not supposed to ask questions about simple concepts that I should be expected know just because I want to be sure I know it fully. I’m supposed to be happy and grateful that I have an education. I’m not supposed to complain because others may have it harder. You may say that I’m being sarcastic but I say you’re wrong. Those who roll their at eyes at the kids who complain about how exhausting their CP and AP classes haven’t gone through the physical and mental battles like we have. If you took a second to step in our shoes, I guarantee you’d want to step right out of them.
What I’ve learned throughout my life is that school will forever be a competition. People will forever compare themselves to their peers around them. It’s inevitable, unless you begin to build realistic expectations for yourself and not build them off of others. We are all our own individuals with our own learning abilities. We all succeed at something better than others and that doesn’t make you a failure, which is what I told myself for so long. We just need to find our level of “intelligence” and improve on it. I’m tired of trying to be someone else. I’m glad to have become wise enough to learn this lesson and begin to express my intelligence to those around me.
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