This is two different things that I wrote at two different times, both about the same subject. The first one was written several months ago while I was still in school, and is basically me expressing my feelings about being one of the two or three “straight A” students in my class. The second one is something I wrote a few weeks ago after I had a shift in how I was looking at the situation.
#1: Sometimes I feel like people who are generally straight A students are too often categorized as “that guy (or girl) who always answers all the questions in class correctly and has gotten everything right before, and therefore will automatically get an A on this thing/get to go to this spelling bee/get a blue ribbon for this contest, etc…”
Although this is usually/often true, it irks me whenever someone says something about it. For example, “Alright, we’re doing the in-class spelling bee. That means the people who are going will be–insert A student’s name— and whoever gets second place” or “Let’s see… Jane got a B, Jim got a C, Bill got a B+– good job by the way–, and got an A, of course…”
Being an A student myself, this honestly frustrates me. I know I’m smart. I know I’m faster at memorization than a lot of other kids. I know I happen to have a brain that can understand mathematical, grammatical, and other logical concepts easily. I don’t need to be constantly reminded of it. I mean, just because I’m book-smart doesn’t mean the rest of the class isn’t just as skilled, but with different things. I know next to nothing about hunting, I haven’t learned very many survival skills, and I’ve never gone fishing. Other people can connect with street-level people a lot better than I can specifically because they aren’t as “school smart” as me. I’m honestly not that different from anyone else– I want to feel like a part of the group just like the rest of the class– but the very fact that I am a straight A student causes me to feel like an outsider, and having it constantly pointed out makes the feeling stronger.
I have always gotten good grades if I paid any attention at all in class. However, I don’t consider myself any better than anyone else. Everyone has their own different talents. Just because someone else isn’t as good at remembering textbook information doesn’t mean they are less than me in any way. Because of this outlook on people, I always got frustrated whenever my classmates and/or teachers made comments relating to my intelligence– especially when it came to spelling bees and grades.
Counting the in-class spelling bees, I have been in 18 of them. I have always enjoyed them, and I was sad when I found out that you could only compete in spelling bees up to 8th grade. I distinctly remember an incident in 6th grade when we were doing the in-class competition. We were all excited and nervous and chattering away as kids are wont to do, and then I overheard someone say something along the lines of “yeah, so I wonder who’s going to go? As alternate of course, since Elissa’s obviously going to win…” Honestly, I was surprised that they thought that, and self-conscious. I mean, yes I did win, but what if I hadn’t? What if they made that comment, and then I happened to get a hard word and strike out after the first round? That happened to me in the second grade district spelling bee. I was in for the first few rounds, but I struck out after no more than 7 or 8 words. I was also upset that they automatically assumed I would win, partly because it meant they were putting themselves down by saying they couldn’t beat me, and partly because it made me feel isolated from the rest of them, like they were putting me in a box that said, “super-smart, can’t possibly understand what we normal students go through when trying to do these things, conclusion: not relatable.” Sometimes this actually made me wish I wasn’t a straight A student, because I didn’t want to be placed in a category like that. It felt the same way every other time people, including teachers, made a comment about my grades or something else to do with school. Except my family. When my family made a comment, about my grades or memory, it was simply a statement of fact, a fact which I shared with all my siblings and didn’t have to feel self-conscious about.
Here is the second piece of writing, which I wrote about three or four (maaaybe five) weeks ago:
#2: A while back, I wrote about some things that frustrated me about being a straight A student (or being considered one by my class) and why it upset me. A couple days ago, Pastor Rob (pastor of one of my youth groups) was talking about “labels” that people give you, and now I realize that this was one of them. Being a straight A student is not a bad thing, but the way I perceived it as affecting me wasn’t a very good outlook. However, looking back on it now, I’ve realized something. People may label us a certain way, but it’s also possible for you to label yourself based on how you think others perceive you. As we search for our personal identity in Christ, we need to get rid of both those labels which others give us and those we place on ourselves.
Although I still don’t like it when people assume I’m going to be good at something just because I got good grades in school, I don’t worry as much about the “label” that it comes with. I know that it’s just a part of who I am, and I shouldn’t worry about other people’s opinions about it. Neither should you!
Have an awesome day! God bless!