This I Believe

Amelia - Natchitoches, Louisiana
Entered on August 22, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: work

Just a score

Throughout my life, I have been driven by the desire to succeed. In every aspect of my life, I was determined to be the best, especially in school. I was convinced that my worth as a person could be calculated by a good grade, and many straight, angular A’s on my report card.

I was accepted into the Gifted program at my school when I was a kindergartner, and enjoyed it immensely. My classes were wonderfully stimulating, and I went through elementary school loving to learn. The years also brought standardized tests. The tests came and went, and year after year I continually scored the highest in my grade, drinking up the praise I received as though it was the water of life. My test scores became to me what body image is to some girls, ultimately linked to my sense of happiness and self-worth.

I progressed through middle school, constantly pushing myself to exceed everyone’s expectations. I became secretly competitive, hoping my classmates weren’t trying as hard as I was, so I could still come out on top. I took the ACT in seventh grade and made a 25. Instead of being thrilled, I lamented for not making at least a 28, and resolved to work harder than ever before.

I moved into high school and was really challenged for the first time in my life. Determined to be the best and brightest, I asked a million questions in class, and studied late into the night. I poured over ACT and SAT guide books as though they were bibles, determined to stun everyone with my amazing test scores.

My school selected me to compete in Literary Rally, (an academic competition) where I would take English and Science tests, competing against others from my district. I had always tested well in the past, and the exam was fairly easy. I was confident my scores would be the highest, as they always were.

I’ll never forget the announcement, “Would the following Rally winners please come down to Mrs. Pointer’s room…” I listened eagerly for my name, but it was never called.

I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach. Surely there had been a mistake. It wasn’t possible… But there was no mistake, and I was devastated. I went home and cried into my pillow, berating myself for how stupid I must be.

But then, it hit me: My marks weren’t the best this time. So what? I was still breathing, healthy, and living a wonderful life. Making the highest scores in the world does not mean a thing, if I am constantly ruining my life to obtain them. This I believe: I am more than a sum of my test scores. I am a unique individual, with talents, hopes, and dreams, that can never be measured by numbers on a piece of paper. There is so much more to life than grades. I only wish I had realized this sooner.