Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's Okay To be Smart

This time of year, I am seeing a lot of people getting tours of the campus. I always wonder what brought them here, because Richard Bland isn't exactly anyone's dream school. It's a two year junior college that aims to transfer you to a four year university. Maybe like me, they were told by their guidance counselor that this would be a good option to boost their GPA and improve their chances of getting into a four year school. Seeing these people makes me think of when I was the one choosing a college, and it has also made me wish I could go back to my high school years and tell myself something.
     I wish I could go back and tell myself that it's okay to be smart. That may sound like a strange thing to say, but I honestly don't think I realized that in high school. My high school often seemed to me like more of a social club than a place to get an education, and intelligence didn't seem to be a thing of particular value to many of my peers.  Girls in particular are allowed to believe that it's more important to be pretty and fit in than to foster your intelligence and learn, and I think that's really a shame.Why are we led to believe that being pretty is the only way to be attractive? Why can't society let young girls believe that kindness and compassion and a having a passion for something are more important than what you look like. Because of these facts and my insecurity, I often hid my interest in learning. I found out quickly that being excited over a book we were reading in English class, or speaking up when I knew the answer to a question and no one else was answering it, was not the norm. It gets weird looks from people, and leads to being labeled a nerd. Because the high school years are so much about conformity and blending in, I did not allow myself to reach my full potential, and that is something I regret. I wish I had realized that school is for learning, not developing popularity.
     I also wish that I could make my former self understand that smart comes in different forms. Not all smart people are good test takers or quick learners, Sometimes being smart is about figuring out what you as an individual need to do to accomplish your goals. Just because you learn differently than someone else does not mean you are dumber than them. I wish I had believed my parents when they told me that, and I wish more of my teachers acknowledged it. It has taken me until now to accept that I sometimes learn differently from other people, and that sometimes I learn slowly, and that does not make me dumb.
     So I guess if I could speak to my high school aged self, I would tell her to be assertive and go against the crowd. I would tell her that achieving popularity is not the point of school. I would tell her that your level of popularity in high school has little to no affect on your life after graduation. I would tell her to not be embarrassed when she actually enjoyed learning. I would tell her to figure out how she learned best, and take advantage of it even if it was different than what everyone else was doing. I would tell her that it's okay to be smart.

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