Being Labeled As 'Gifted' Has Ruined My Life

Being Labeled As 'Gifted' Has Ruined My Life

Why was I seen as special compared to some of my friends? Why were they not getting access to the same resources as me?
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There is not a feeling in the world worse than feeling like you’re not good enough.

Every day of my life, I feel like I am not good enough.

I was first labeled “gifted” when I was 3 years old. Since then, nobody has treated me like a normal person.

People act like being labeled as gifted makes you some sort of Albert Einstein-level genius.

But the truth is, I’m just a normal, average girl.

When I was in first grade, my school placed me in an accelerated program. I was taken out of my regular class every day for an hour to be placed with children that were “more my speed."

We did extra reading and deep-thinking skills. I developed the reading level of a fifth grader at 6 years old.

But why wasn’t I learning those things in my normal class?

Why was I considered special compared to some of my friends? Why were they not getting access to the same resources as me?

I was placed in yet another accelerated program in third grade. I was invited to join a magnet program at a different elementary school. I was forced to leave my friends behind to go to a “better” program.

Of course, I made new friends. Friends that were just as intelligent as I was or maybe even more intelligent.

That’s when I first learned what self-doubt was.

I was no longer the smartest kid in the class.

I was once again average.

Middle school came along, and I went to another school with a different magnet program. This one was more focused on language and literature while my old program was based on science, math and technology.

All of a sudden, I was considered dumb. I went from getting straight A’s to somehow getting B's. I was taking high school-level classes at the age of 11.

I was too smart for my own good.

Suddenly, I was getting stressed out over adult problems. I lost my rose-colored glasses and was hit in the face with the stone-cold hand of reality.

I had all of my peers telling me I was an idiot and my parents telling me I was a genius. These mixed messages got to my head and left me anxious and depressed.

I continued onto an international program for high school. I started taking college-level courses at the age of 14. I went from all A’s and B’s to a few C’s.

I officially lost any feelings of self-worth that I had left.

Over the years, I have been able to build that self-worth back up, but I still have so many questions.

Why was I chosen over some of my friends to be placed in magnet programs?

Why do students in magnet programs get access to better teachers and better materials? How is that fair?

Why wasn’t I allowed to have the life of a normal child and a normal high schooler? Why was I forced to pull all-nighters starting as a sixth grader?

Students in magnet programs aren’t better than anybody else, but so many of them think they are. They look down upon less fortunate students that didn’t have the opportunity to join special programs at 8 years old.

I got the opportunity to join these programs because my parents were extremely involved in my upbringing. Some children are not as fortunate and have parents that either don’t care or don’t have the time to dedicate.

These children don’t get the opportunity when they’re younger, and therefore, aren’t offered the opportunity when they’re older.

The educational system is extremely messed up. Students in higher socioeconomic classes get better opportunities.

What happened to equality?

We need to allow all students equal opportunities for stronger education. We need to start young.

We need to save future generations from academic discrimination.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Mazzola

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An Open Letter To My High School Self

"How did you go from being one of the best, to being such a complete fucking joke?"
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Hey, you. Yes, you. The person that could work 4 pm to 10 pm schedules six days a week, yet be up for school at 6 am five days a week? The person that could consistently have just shy of $1,000 on any given day? That person who could get his bills paid without assistance? You were the model employee. What happened to him?

Yet, despite all that, you could consistently get As and Bs throughout your high school life, and met deadlines no matter what happened. You got damn near great attendance throughout your junior and senior years of high school. You never, ever allowed yourself to make excuses whenever there would be a hurdle you needed to climb to achieve maximum excellence in your high school life. You never settled for anything less than a 3.0 in any subject. You were the model student. What happened to him?

Between 7th grade and late 2013, you were looked up to as the model student, son, and employee. Then, something changed in you. What was it?

Granted, you got fired from your first job at the turn of the new year in 2014, but you seemed to bounce back from that very smoothly a few weeks later and continued the excellence that carried you all those years. Things looked to be smooth sailing in your life.

Until that fateful day in March 2014, when you found out that your father, the hero in your life, tragically passed from us due to a heart attack. It rocked you, and you forgot who you were for a few months. Yet, you still powered through, and still attended work not too long after his death. You still had that solid excellency throughout your life, but we saw some cracks show through you.

Then, you started to show up late for work. Started to dabble in shit you should not have been involved in with no knowledge. Your attitude towards work, life, friends, and family noticeably started to change. That was the extent of the cracks that proved to be warning signs that something was going amiss.

The further extent of those cracks began getting bigger and bigger when you attended school after taking the 2013-14 academic year off. Your first semester proved to be mediocre at best. Okay, it’s been a year. Work off the rust, you’ll return stronger than ever.

You bounced back with a bang in the Winter of 2015 when your semester GPA matched your high school GPAs. Life was still looking great, but those cracks never seemed to be sealed, as was evident in the late summer-fall of 2015. Your financial life started to slowly take a shit, as some late payments on bills started to become more prevalent. You started to miss due dates on the regular. During the fall of 2015, you started to sink further and further.

During the fall of 2015, you decided to switch up what was working, and never got a grade above a 3.0. You decided to take evening classes, which would prove to be a bad idea due to the aforementioned grade point average. Maybe a fluke?

Winter of 2016 was a mixed bag. At the start of the year, you idiotically quit your job, leaving you unemployed for three months of the year. During that stretch, some signs that you were taking more involvement in your school life by joining The Odyssey Online. It was met by being a hit; you even got the most views for a week on a particular article. On your 22nd birthday, no less.

Then, your inability to get shit done within the deadlines caught up with you, badly there.

Summer 2016 proved to be a hell summer, financially and, especially socially, with the divisiveness with the election. It’s okay, shake it off, and have an impressive fall of 2016.

You did indeed have an impressive fall of 2016, getting above a 3.5 in two of your three classes. Even with the hostility during the 2016 election, with you yourself on the receiving end of some negative comments during and after the night of 11/8/2016, you still powered through and got your financial life and academic life still in order.

Then, the winter of 2017 hit, and so did your academic life. You, again, idiotically took evening classes even though you knew what would happen, considering you did the same thing two years prior. You were not so lucky this time, as you barely scraped by with a 2.0.

As you’re approaching the final few semesters of your collegiate career, one question I still have for you, Travis. What the fuck happened to you? What happened to that model student, employee, family member, and an overall person that was there from 2007-13? What happened from going from that to the lazy fuck-up that you are now? I know you’re still in shock about your father passing, and that would have an understandably negative impact on somebody, but still. You’re better than that, Travis.

At least I thought you were.

Signed, junior and senior year of high school Travis

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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My Experience with Catholic School

Sex Education in Private Catholic Schools
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From pre-k to my senior year of high school I had attended catholic school. It was fairly common where I’m from in Connecticut to attend private school rather than a public school, even if you were not Catholic whatsoever. The schools, especially in the early 2000’s, were not the best. Because of this, my parents opted for me to attend a private school. I’m thankful that I was sent there because at the other schools, the environment was rough. However there are some things about catholic school that I personally take issue with.

Sex Education was a huge issue and still is. In many ways even calling it sex education is a joke. I remember our first lessons began in fifth grade. This class was called “family life”. Together we were taught about the sacrament of marriage and how having a child specifically in a marriage is a gift from God. For the actual anatomy of the female and male body, we were not actually separated based on gender. In sixth grade, all lessons besides the ones on marriage, we were separated. The boys would be brought to the nurse’s office by our priest where they had their own lesson. The lessons were incredibly basic and was not really sex ed. My school, like many schools did and still do, took the abstinence approach. As girls, we were taught that our virginity was very special and only for our future husbands. Virginity, in simple terms, was vaginal penetration, though it was never even directly stated, teachers just implied at it. If we were to lose our virginity before that, it was a grave sin. Our bodies were tainted, or at least that is what we were taught. I really do not know what the boys were told in their sessions, but I’m sure the purity aspect was not pushed on them as much as it was on the girls.

As I stated before, what we learned was basic. We were taught things like how to label the vagina, but not know the usage of each anatomical part like how periods occurred and what to do, and the basic anatomy of a penis. In high school, it did not get much better. We were being taught the same material along with information on STD’s, how to do a self-check for breast cancer, and drugs and alcohol were tied in. I did not learn anything that I did not already know. Much of my sexual education came from Google. Until I was fifteen, I didn’t even know what lesbians did sexually until a girl in theatre explained it to me.

My main point of this article is that this is a serious problem. Abstinence-only education does not work very well. A research article on Vice states that it does not only fail when kids have sex but also leads to unintended pregnancies as well as the spread of std’s. Those who try to maintain abstinence tend to not use condoms during sex or use any kind of contraceptives. I also would argue that the lessons are rather discriminatory. Only learning about heterosexuality truly limits what you know. Though one person may not be gay, understanding and having acceptance is a good skill for the people you may meet. Overall, I think this type of education does nothing but confuse adolescents and leave them to their own devices.

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