Being The Smart Kid Wasn't Always Fun

This Is The Downside Of Being The Smart Kid In School

Just because school was easy for me didn't mean my life was perfect.

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When I was in school, especially elementary and middle school, I was labeled the "smart kid."

Don't let the title fool you; I didn't hate being the smart kid. It definitely had its advantages.

I basically taught myself to read. When my mom would read my favorite book to me at night, I would stare at the words as I listened to the sounds she made. Eventually, it clicked in my head.

I formed the connection between letters and sounds all by myself. One time, I snatched the book out of her hands and read it out loud by myself.

I got almost perfect grades on every assignment (at least until high school). I was always on the honor roll, I won certificates to my favorite restaurants for my grades, and I was encouraged to take upper-level courses once I got into high school.

School always came easy to me, and my classmates noticed it as well.

However, there were some things that went into being the "smart kid" that I would gladly trade for a D on my report card.

I was expected to work much harder than the other kids.

I would usually finish my work much earlier than the other kids, and the teachers would "reward" me with more work.

That wasn't fair; I already did what they asked me to do. Why couldn't I read for fun or draw a picture instead?

I remember a time in first grade when the teacher realized I was reading at a much more advanced level than the rest of the kids. I had no clue what that meant; I was only six years old.

During a movie day, she pulled me aside and gave me a book to read instead. She didn't explain why; she just told me to read it. When I finished reading, she would make me read it again multiple times.

I just wanted to watch the movie like the other kids. Why was I being separated from my classmates?

Everyone used me for personal gain.

Even if you don't realize your status as the "smart kid," your classmates will pick up on it very quickly.

The kids would always copy off my work rather than try their best. They expected me to willingly "help" them. Not only was I the "smart kid," but I was also the "nice kid" (a.k.a. the class pushover).

If I told the teacher on them, they would call me "mean," "nerd" "loser," etc. I already got bullied almost every day for other reasons; I didn't need to give these kids any more fuel for the fire.

When I would ask them why they were copying off me, they would answer, "It's because you're smart," as if that made it right.

That would be like stealing someone's expensive belongings and justifying their theft because "the person I stole from was rich."

No matter what title someone has on them, cheating and stealing are wrong.

Finally, I got bullied a lot.

I'm not sure if the kids realized my name was Sarah, not "four-eyes," "Brainiac," "nerd" "geek," or "weirdo."

When I won the third grade spelling bee with the word "neutralize," my "best friend" called me a nerd because I was the winner. Instances like these happened all the time, and it made me want to stop trying.

Eventually, I started failing on purpose.

For the spelling bees after that, I would spell words wrong intentionally even though I knew how to spell them right.

I would pretend I didn't understand the material we were learning just so the kids and teachers would take some pressure off me.

Even though I was lying, I was relieved.

How much of this "smart kid" thing was a self-fulfilling prophecy? What if the teachers equally distributed their motivating efforts to all of the kids rather than singling me out and letting the other kids slack off?

Maybe I wouldn't have been bullied, used or excluded. We all could've been given a fair chance.

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Dear Soon-To-Be Seniors

These are a few things we'd like to tell you about Senior year.
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Dear soon-to-be high school seniors,

Goodbye. As the class of ahead of you, we've watched you grow, always one step behind us. As we graduate, there are some things I'd like to tell you about your last year of high school.

Yes, Senior year can be just as amazing as everyone says it is, if you make it that way. But don't think it's a blow-off year with no work. This year may hold some of the most stressful times of your life.Be prepared for late nights writing papers or hard tests that could make or break your graduation status. However, don't stress too much about homework. A question I often asked myself this year was, "in twenty years, will I remember staying up till 2am studying for Econ? Or will I remember a fun night with my friends?" Ok, probably not the best advice if you don't have the best of grades, but most of the time you stress yourself out for no reason and miss out on fun things.

Another thing, try to get on the college grind early. If you haven't already, start looking at colleges and applying! Then narrow it down as soon as you can. You don't want to be stressed about that decision in the last month of senior year. Honestly, the sooner you can make your decision, the happier and less stressed you will probably be.

It's not too late to join new things either; a lot of people join a sport or a club senior year and have a lot of fun because of it. So try that thing you've always wanted to join! Speaking of which, go to prom! I won't tell you prom is the best experience of your life because for some people it's not, but it's pretty amazing. Don't stress too much about getting a date, either the right guy/girl will show up, or you'll just go with your friends and still have a blast.

Don't be too rude to the underclassmen. You were that young just a few years ago. And they're the ones who usually put your senior nights together, so make sure you thank them. Also keep in mind that they are looking up to you. Remember those seniors you looked up to just a few short years ago? Be a good example. Take your place in the school as Seniors and continue where we left off; carry on the legacy of your school and be proud of it.

If your school does Kairos (or a similar senior retreat), be absolutely open to it! If it's your thing, enjoy it! If it's not your thing, still try to be open to it. You don't have to love it, but at least don't hate on it before you've even been. Bonding with your class is a big part of senior year. I made so many new friends this year that I never thought I would if it hadn't been for Kairos.

Speaking of which, be open to new friends. Whether they're seniors or not, talk to everyone. In a few months, you may never see those kids again, so it's worth getting to know them past just being friends on Facebook. Also, don't give up on dating people in your class. Yeah, there's only a few months left and you've spent the last 4 years with these people, but there might be one person out there who could change your whole year for the better if you give them the chance.

Above all, enjoy it. You only get one senior year, so make it count. Go to everything you possibly can: every football game, dance, party, musical, bonfire, etc. Enjoy wearing the jersey of your team for the last time, taking your last bow on your high school stage, and turning in your last final, because it will all be gone within the blink of an eye. You'll find yourself walking down the aisle in a cap and gown of those same school colors you thought you despised (but really, you'll secretly miss). You'll look at your favorite teachers lined up behind you and your family sitting in front of you, and most importantly your class around you, and I hope, I really hope, you don't regret a single moment of senior year.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Skog

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

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I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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