Being mediocre has never been anybody’s dream. We all wanted to be big fishes whether it be in a pond or in the ocean. However, being, or even just striving to be a big fish puts you under a spotlight in front of the critical eyes of the public.
I didn’t know this until I was 12 years old.
When I was in 6th grade, I submitted an entry for our school paper. It was a poem that I wrote about dreams. It was the first poem that I ever wrote and it was great (my cousin who was in college during that time was surprised that I could write such piece)!
However, it got rejected. What’s worse is that I got accused of claiming credit for another person’s work. They didn’t believe me when I told them I was the one who wrote it. Maybe because it was the first time that I submitted an entry, and I have never shown any signs of having even the slightest skill in writing.
I tried to defend myself. I was honest and I told them that I asked an older cousin to check it for mistakes coz I really wanted it to be included in the school paper. My cousin actually loved it. He didn’t even find any major error. He just suggested that I delete the last verse, and that’s what I did!
I even showed them the original — the piece of paper where I drafted the poem. Still, they did not believe me…
And my heart was crushed.
This got me thinking, “maybe if my work was mediocre, they would believe that I wrote it”. Maybe it was too damn good that they couldn’t believe that a 12 year-old amateur was able to write something like it! They couldn’t seem to wrap their minds around the possibility that a student who wasn’t very smart can write such! I was so furious!!!
I regretted showing them my work. I wish I never tried! If I didn’t dream of having my poem published in our school paper, I wouldn’t have experienced such injustice.
Okay, maybe they didn’t like that I asked my cousin to check my work. Maybe that was against the rules. Maybe that was the reason why it got rejected. I wasn’t aware of it, but I would’ve accepted it if our school-paper adviser called my attention and explained it to me in private.
Nah! I wasn’t worth her precious time. She just asked my classmate, the editor-in-chief, to return my poem and tell me that they didn’t think I wrote it.
Confidence — that’s what those people unknowingly robbed from me. They taught me to write in secret — in my diary, at the back of my school notebooks, in a piece of paper. I never put my name on whatever I wrote since (same reason why I’m using a pen name in this blog).
Strive for Greatness — that’s what they discouraged me from doing. This experience (well, one of many) made me think that mediocrity is a safer and happier place.
So if you’re a teacher or an adviser, please find time to talk to your students. If he/she has done something out of the ordinary, something that seems impossible to have been done by him/her — good or bad — make time to investigate. Hear his/her side of the story. Don’t jump into conclusions and make accusations based on his/her usual behavior.
They are kids! They may be discovering new things about themselves; skills and talents that they didn’t know they had. Hone it when it appears.
Newly discovered skills are like babies. They need to be nurtured. These skills are very fragile that even the smallest act of discouragement can crush them.
And remember, you don’t know what a kid is going through. An incident that would seem minor to you may be something big for her. She’s just a kid after all. To her, everything seems big!