The Label

Mackenzie - Kenai, Alaska
Entered on March 30, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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The Label

“Mackenzie please read the following passage,” instructed Mrs. Peterson. My goal was to read to the bottom of the page. Mrs. Peterson stared at me as she pressed the button on the stop watch. My palms began to sweat, my heart started beating faster, my face turned beet red, and my legs began shaking. I stumbled through the passage nervously, barely finishing half the page before time was up.

“Mackenzie, Andy, Jacob, and Christin you’re in the green group,” Mrs. Peterson announced the next morning. Tears welled up in my eyes when I realized I was with a group of kids who struggled to read in first grade. I was embarrassed, sad, and dreaded reading time after that. I was an underachiever, a failure, and I was only seven years old.

Things changed the next year; my teacher was nice, and I was not afraid to read to her. Suddenly, I was the fastest reader in my class. Mrs. Wojchiechowski showed me how to be organized and work hard. I was no longer an “underachiever” but an “achiever”, confident and fearless in my quest for learning. I felt good about myself.

My best friend also had trouble reading. She was labeled an underachiever, and was placed in special classes. This made me very sad because I knew how brilliant and smart she was. Her mind just worked differently.

Once I overcame my fears and learning became easy for me, I made the decision to always try my hardest and do my best in school. Unfortunately, I received a new label, “overachiever”. I wasn’t so sure I liked this label because it implied I was an “excessive” achiever.

Labeling helps us classify things. However, labels often have negative, or bad, connotations that can be harmful and hurtful. At eight years old, I learned that how others labeled me affected my self-esteem. I also realized it was wrong to label children because of their learning styles. Every kid learns differently. Labeling can have both negative and positive affects on kids’ confidence. Consequently, labeling can affect how they perform in school. For example, many of my so called “overachiever” friends have even stopped trying to do their best because they do not like being called “overachievers”.

As for my best friend, her special classes helped her overcome her learning disability. She has learned not to let bad labels hurt her self-esteem. Today, she is an excellent student.

As for me, I try to shrug off labels given to me by others. I do not consider myself an “overachiever”. I like to consider myself a confident student who always tries to do her best. More importantly, I think twice before labeling others.