In high school, I was always the kid who was always cutting class, talking back to the teachers, and inevitably getting detentions. As a matter of fact, I would end up skipping the detentions just so I would get a day’s suspension from school. I loathed every minute of it. So you can imagine my surprise when one seemingly average afternoon, I was summoned to go to the Writing Center during one of my free periods. My presence was not normally something welcome in the Writing Center, let alone requested; I was one of those obnoxious kids always making smart-alec comments with my friends instead of doing my work.
Recently, I had been spending more time in the Writing Center than usual since our Junior Writing Portfolios had been due; they were an enormous undertaking and a graduation requirement for all students. As I recall, the portfolio had to consist of a student’s piece of timed writing, a persuasive piece, and several creative pieces, as well as an introduction letter. For some odd reason, I was unusually inspired to write the introduction letter. I felt like it was my “one shot” at explaining myself as a student, and I could use this opportunity to be almost self-deprecating in a sympathetic way.
The highest you could score on the portfolio was a 6, but in order to pass you had to get a 3. I was awarded with a 4. Nonetheless I was extremely excited to have gotten basically the equivalent of a B+. I bragged to my parents incessantly about it, since it had been the only somewhat significant type of academic success I had ever, and probably would ever achieve. From the way I saw it, my social life would always be more important than my grades.
So picture me, standing in the Writing Center, anxiously tapping my foot. The evil troll who was head of the Center was eagerly assisting another student, until finally she turned to me and said, “A piece of writing from your Writing Portfolio has been selected to appear in our Exemplary Guide of Writing book.” I think my mouth literally dropped. She then presented me with an advance copy and said “Congratulations.”
The only reaction I could muster after this interaction was a meek walk to my locker, where I slid down to the floor and proceeded to turn to the table of contents. There my name was, right there on page 2!!! I really had done it! You see, up until this point, as clichéd as it sounds, I had never really acknowledged that I might in fact have potential. It was truly at this point that I would realize that I had it in me all along. Could this possibly mean I had…talent? And that most promising yet threatening of all words…potential? So in conclusion this I believe: we are smarter than we think we are.
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