I remember my first days of school like yesterday. The most vivid is the year I went to sixth grade. Everything had to be prefect; my haircut had to be fresh, my school uniform needed to be clean and crispy, I was so serious, I even needed my school supplies to be top notch. Although none of this kept me from being bullied for the gaps in my teeth and not having facial hair, I still managed to be one of the coolest kids in school.
Sixth grade was a turning point for me socially. Here I was, this eleven year old kid who didn’t feel like a kid anymore. This was my first step into adulthood (or so I thought.) I remember feeling like one of the “big kids”. I wasn’t in elementary school anymore. Middle school was a Rite of Passage for kids at my school. Most of us had been there since Pre-K. Since I was a third grade import, I was always a target for bullying. By sixth grade, I had made my mark. No more bullying, no more confusion as to what my place was in the grade school food chain, I had finally made it.
My only trouble was, I was so busy keeping up with my peers that I failed to keep up with my studies. I was an extremely smart kid. I had some trouble in math but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. When I was in 1st grade I was reading at an eighth grade level. But being a smart kid didn’t make me cool.
Everyone else was goofing off so, of course, I went along with it. I skipped class and tormented substitute teachers, pulled girls by their ponytails and bullied the weaker species of children. I was a riot. My friends loved it, my teachers hated it, and my mom was stressed out. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I started taking my education seriously (that lasted until sophomore year of college, but that’s another story for another time.)
There are a lot of children going back to school today and I’m sharing this story to let them know that it’s okay to be smart. Don’t be ashamed of your desire to learn. Let the talents and skill that you possess grow without hindrance. Think of yourself as a seed. The more water you consume, the more you’ll flourish. Allow yourself to grow and don’t let the other seeds in the garden block your sunlight. That incredible genius inside of you is ready to thrive. The athlete that you want to be is restless and ready to get out there and impress everyone.
There will be some distractions but the more you focus on the positive things, the better off you will be in the future. The same people who bullied me for being a “dork” are the same people who want to work with me now because I’m great at what I do. I didn’t make all of the right decisions to get here, but I made it. You can do the same, but you have people like me who learned the hard way so you don’t have to. Be smart, be fearless, and always be amazing; because that’s exactly what you are.