When I was in fourth grade, I won a writing contest. I wrote something about Jamestown, I don't remember exactly what. What I do remember is that even at that young age, this recognition made me feel smart. When I was in sixth grade, a teacher told me that I would probably never be good at math, which she seemed surprised and disappointed by because she taught my brother who is very good at math . I don't remember her exact words, but I remember feeling stupid. Last week, I helped a child with a math problem, and I watched as the right answer was discovered after my explanation. It was not until that moment, about seven years after that comment was made, that I finally let it go.
I am still good at writing, and still bad at math. Since the sixth grade, I have had many more academic successes and failures, I got through high school with an average GPA, and was able to get into a college that I can hopefully eventually transfer out of to get to a four year school. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but sometimes I compare myself to my peers who seem to be moving along much quicker and with less difficulty than me, and I wonder if I even belong in college. Sometimes, I still feel like that young impressionable sixth grader who just couldn't figure it out.
But when I really stop to think about it, I realize that I'm still carrying around failures and insecurities from the past, and they're blocking out all of the successes. Yes, sometimes I feel like I will one day be 95 years old and still in college math, but at least I can say that I did graduate from high school and I did get into college.I have gotten perfect scores on college papers and passed plenty of tests that didn't exactly qualify as easy. I also passed sixth grade math, which at the time I wasn't sure was even possible. So while I'm navigating through the adventure of obtaining a college degree, I will work on seeing myself not as the sixth grader ready to give up on math and be an illegal middle school drop out, but as the confident college student who can help a child with a math problem and will one day pass all of the necessary classes and obtain a degree, just like she passed sixth grade math years ago.