A Follow Up

I received an anonymous comment on my last post that I feel the need to address further. The comment read:

“I hate being beaten by those less naturally talented but who worked a lot harder.”
Real life lesson in work ethic trumping natural ability. You need both to succeed. Do you think perhaps people that work harder deserve it more and sacrificed more?

Of course I think they deserve it more. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me.

My dad’s a principal and every year he reads the HSC results and comments on how a naturally talented kid got beaten by a hard worker. Every. Single. Year.

And I have a theory.

The Body Image Brigade are big on advocating the fact we shouldn’t be telling little girls that they’re pretty. I believe we shouldn’t be telling little kids that they’re smart. Because these little kids grow into teenagers and everything in life has come easily to them. And then other, less talented kids, start working and become competition. But the smart kids have never learnt the value of hard work because they’ve always been the best and they don’t like competition. So they drop off.

And that’s true for me and for a million other kids my parents have taught over the years, and for many others I have personally encountered. 

I was never taught to deal with pressure and the idea of losing – not by my parents, not by my teachers, not by anyone I encountered. And so I can’t cope with it. I fear failure. And we all know the natural response to fear of failure is to not try – if you don’t do your best you can’t be held accountable for the results, after all.

I applaud those with the hard work and determination to come from behind and win. But it doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed in myself. Not disappointed in my inability to cope with failure. Not disappointed with the fact I often don’t try for the fear of not being good enough.

So just like we’re now taught to check ourselves before telling a little kid they’re beautiful in case it defines them in the future, maybe we should think about not telling kids they’re super smart for the same reason. 

frangipani princess xoxo

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4 thoughts on “A Follow Up

  1. Same Anon btw.Yes, but those 99+ kids were probably told they were smart all their lives too. And then work hard on top of it. It was your choice to choose to be disheartened by the competition.I don't think you're really taught to deal with failure etc. It's a self taught mechanism. But to be honest, I don't think you've ever truly failed, just didn't come out on top like you wanted. I think it would have been hard as you grew up in a small town and moved to a city or something yes? It was hard to kick a self complacency from being used to being the "best" with ease when you were younger.So I'm not being awful, but it's hard to compete HSC wise with those score of kids with the hot house of environment of a selective school, natural intelligence coupled with killer work ethic. LIke most of those 99+ers are taken by JRAHS and Baulkham Hillers anyway :PI think it's nice you clarified with this post, but felt seeing as my comment warranted another post, I should probably comment again. I think it's nice how I understand now that you didn't mean they didn't deserve it as much etc. I suppose we can agree to disagree.

  2. Okay. Few things I'd like to address here. Firstly, I didn't "choose" to be disheartened by the competition. I developed a mental illness and ended up seeing a psychologist and on medication for it. I've actually been sitting my HSC in separate rooms to try and combat the pressure I feel amongst other people. It's not like I just woke up one day and went "meh, can't be bothered to work hard, may as well laze around for the rest of my schooling career", over the last six years I developed anxiety and depression and battled a crippling addiction to self harm. I wasn't being disheartened and lazy, I was as sick as someone who develops an eating disorder. It wasn't my choice. My brain was wired badly and combined with the atmosphere I was brought up in, it ended dangerously for me. Maybe dealing with failure is a self taught mechanism, but when your brain isn't built with the right chemicals it's really hard to learn. It's like producing insulin to…do whatever insulin does (I'm not a science student) is self-taught by your body, but diabetics need help with it. And if they don't get help, things go very wrong. Secondly, yes I grew up in a small town, but you know what? That small town had just as many bright kids as my new school which is triple the size. I came second in all of my subjects, and yes, missed out on firsts because of the reasons outlined above and in my post. But you know what? I wouldn't have made this post if I thought it was just me and my personal issues. This is something that affects SO MANY KIDS. And yes, there are the crazy 99+ers who can work super hard and do super well (like my cousin who got 99.2 last year), but maybe they were just luckier with the composition of chemicals in their brain. I have come across so many high achievers, who like me, in senior years have developed major issues coping with the stress and pressure. Thanks for your comments though.FP 🙂

  3. Willy, like nephew Willy, is a legit genius. He was super engaged in school and his teacher love him. Then he ended up skipping constantly. He never gave his reason, but we;ve assumed he just along the lines of "I'm already smarter than them, I don't need this shit."What got him back at school was when his teacher told him that if she wrote reports then he'd be at the bottom of the class./Vaguely relevent anecdote.

  4. hey, i just wanted to say that i am that person who can naturally do well. the one who never studies (im in year 9). the one who always gets told im smart. but im also that person whose grades have slipped. who failed a science test last year because i couldnt be bothered studying since id never had to before. the one who, this year, has begun to strongly dislike someone for their ability to work hard enough to beat me at everything. and the person who had to see a psychologist because of anxiety over not being the best, however that wasnt helpful because i felt she didnt actually understand. i dont know how to deal with failure, and i dont know how to change that. any suggestions? x

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