by Taylor Wallace ‘21
As a self proclaimed “high-striving” student, if I have learned anything from these past four years in high school, it’s the importance of perspective. Going into high school, my academic ego was at an all time high. Up until that point I only got ‘A’s’ and I didn’t plan on stopping. However, it turned out that what I coined as just my ambition showing was actually me experiencing the sneaky side effects of gifted kid burnout. It’s very common amongst kids like me, who was a part of a ‘gifted and talented’ program in elementary school, to experience repercussions such as perfectionism, crushing self-doubt, and a decrease in motivation once transitioning to a more difficult environment such as high school.
Being faced with the reality of my academic abilities and feeling like I wasn’t living up to the title of being ‘gifted’ was the most difficult obstacle I had to overcome. When I found myself getting the occasional ‘B’ in my classes, it was extremely damaging to my confidence. It made me feel like I wasn’t actually as ‘special’ as everyone had told me I was for years. I felt like a fraud. The shame from not doing as well as I wished in my classes completely tanked my motivation because I had completely convinced myself that my best just wasn’t good enough.
My saving grace from this destructive mentality was putting things into perspective. I had to give myself credit for all the hard work that I had done. We often tend to be our own biggest critic so when I made the conscious effort to switch the narrative in my mind and become my own biggest fan, I was able to find peace in who I was and where I was. I realized that the flawless image of myself I had formulated didn’t even exist and I acknowledged that part of life is constantly being a work in progress. That’s when I realized that I had to redefine what being ‘gifted’ meant to me.
My message here is much more than just that you are more than your grades, it’s that no matter where you are in life, you are gifted. Every day, you are gifted with the ability to wake up in the morning and work towards making whatever dreams you have a reality. I’ve spent way too much of my eighteen years on this Earth beating myself up for falling short of the unrealistic standards I put in place. It wasn’t until I realized that where I am right now is where I am meant to be that I was able to break out of the mental cage I had locked myself in. I could not be more excited to take advantage of my gift every day and get the chance to go out and fulfill my potential.