The Label “Smart” Student

Photo illustration by K. Tran.

Photo illustration by K. Tran.

Kathlyn Tran, Staff Writer

Many students have one or more labels during school; for example: the athlete, the band kid, or the smart kid. Labels can be restricting and cause added pressure to the student. There are also similarities and differences in mindsets between students. 

I personally believe that there are many different ways to be smart, but people think I am joking just because I take more academically challenging courses. Yet, within them, I feel average. There are many intelligent people around me; but from a young age, we are taught that good grades equate to a smart person. I have my strengths and weaknesses. While I appreciate when people compliment my grades, it does not mean someone can look down on my efforts and have a pass to judge me. 

Some people make me uncomfortable because they will mention my grades out loud sarcastically to dismiss my efforts, and bring themselves down to push me onto a pedestal. I don’t want others to bring themselves down because of me. I would rather be someone’s role model or a good influence for them. I understand where they may come from, but it puts both parties into an awkward, and avoidable, position.

More than anything, I have to hide my grades. I have to be incredibly modest. I shouldn’t be too happy with my grade or people will think I’m bragging. However, if I get a grade that fails to meet my standards, and I try to share about my disappointment, I get accused of complaining. I can’t be too upset or proud with my grade, or people think I’m looking down on them. I have to tiptoe around some people. The people that get it, get it. Some don’t.

In addition, the attachment to a letter grade is not healthy. Education is important but a letter should not determine your self worth. Education can come in many forms, and sometimes it’s not found within a classroom. There are times when I thought to myself that I would be nobody if I didn’t have a certain grade; evidently, this is not true and I am trying to unlearn this concept. Negativity is something I would say a lot of honors kids have in common. We are critical of ourselves. We don’t feel like the “smart” kids that people often portray us as.

For a long time, the fear of failing was stronger than my will to actually learn something new; but as I start to take hard classes, I have to learn to not base my self-worth on a single letter. These thoughts are based simply on my own experiences, and they can vary from person to person, but I think there are common themes that can be agreed upon.