www.whyville.net Sep 21, 2008 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Mock Morals: Striving for Success

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I remember when I used to be the smartest kid in school.

"You're so smart, Jess!"

"Wow, you're a genius."

"Why don't you skip a grade like Gordo in "Lizzie McGuire"?"

Everything came easily for me. What happened to that?

I used to be an active child, I played sports regularly. Naturally I was an athlete at school.

I used to be the best in music class because I took piano lessons for 8 years. I also learned to play the recorder and xylophone from a young age, so I was easily able to master woodwind and percussion instruments. However, in sixth grade a new student without any prior music experience excelled more than I on the piano. She also went on to pass every instrument our school had to offer (flute, trumpet, clarinet, trombone, xylophone, drums, guitar). It just came so naturally to her, while I had been training myself for YEARS.

Moreover, I was an academic. My parents always stressed the importance of a good education. Ever since I was little, I've won subject awards at school. My parents told me that they were proud. But more than that, they told me to do better next time. I heard one measly compliment and for the rest of the day, I was told to do better. To strive for more. I've been striving for more all my life.

You know those kids who never do their homework? I have never been that kid. Even when I did not understand the assignment, I have always done it. My friends thought it was cool if they blew off their studies and went to a birthday party. But I was always focused on doing what was asked of me. I wanted to be successful at life. Birthday parties only last for an hour. But, your life? That lasts forever.

I went back to school on September 2nd. In math we had a light welcome quiz. I failed. I didn't remember a single thing. It was partially because of the summer . . . and partially because I feel like I've lost my intelligence. I do not remember anything. I remember learning about it, but I don't remember what it was about.

I look at all the smart kids in class talking about what universities they are applying to and how they hope to win scholarships by graduation next year. I feel so stupid. What happened to me? I should be over there taking about school, about my future. But I'm not. I am sitting here at the back corner gossiping about unsuspecting victims and summarizing last night's new episode of "90210" for my friends.

The truth is I don't apply myself anymore. I care more about TV, fashion and just about everything else than I do about school. Sometimes I slip up and I don't do my homework. But I'm smart about it and I rarely get caught. I think to myself "I'd rather watch 'America's Next Top Model' than study for my math test" and I do. But when I'm inside that classroom struggling with the test, I just know I'm going to fail. I should've studied last night instead of watching ANTM. I know about posing, gossiping, fighting, and producing a good picture. But when it comes to functions and parabolas, my knowledge fails me.

High school is an ambition killer. Entering high school two years ago, I knew that there would be thousands of other students who were smarter than me. In ninth grade, I put my computer knowledge to use by taking a business course. I passed with a 95. You may think this is an excellent mark, I did too until I learned the overall highest mark was a 98. In tenth grade, an honor student took business away from me -- she was more successful than I.

I guess in life, there will always be someone who can do something better than you can. But if that applied to everyone, wouldn't it mean that no one truly is the best at anything? I've been striving to be the best all my life . . . and for what?

Nothing comes naturally to me anymore. When it does, someone is always better at it than I am.


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