When I was in elementary school, I qualified for my school’s program for children whom they classified as “gifted.” This program, GATE, was supposed to challenge us in new ways during class, and give us an outlet. What GATE ended up doing was putting a lot of pressure on us to be A+ students because we “were smart enough to do it.” It also included a lot of extra homework. When I dropped the program in sixth grade, I went from three hours of homework a night to a measly fifteen minutes. But at this point, the mindset that I had to overachieve had set in. I joined honors classes in middle school. I even got myself into an honors math program and I hate math. In high school, despite beginning to struggle with my mental health, I took all honors classes. Today, I’m in college, about to graduate with two associates degrees before I move on to my next step. I am no longer in honors. I no longer take more higher level classes than I need to. Because I learned.
I learned that these gifted programs are busy work. Kids with minds that work fast, no matter how “smart” they are, get bored sitting in a desk all day. They’re kids! Sure, all of that busy work keeps them busy, but they never learn how to really absorb material. Many gifted kids have to learn to study from scratch when they get older because it’s assumed that they will automatically retain information. I learned that getting a B instead of an A doesn’t mean I’m a failure, because it’s not about me “being smarter than that.” I could write an entire article on the issues with standardized testing, but for now I digress. I learned that being a part of these gifted programs, taking all honors classes, and putting aside sleep is not the only way to get into a good college. I had friends in regular classes who got into better schools than me. I learned that being stressed about my school work to the point where I was losing both weight and hair is not healthy, and that it was not my fault that I couldn’t always keep up. Life happens. Breathe. Carpe Diem.
So to all those gifted students who are now just average college students: good! I am so proud of you. Celebrate your strengths. Recognize that you won’t be the best at everything you do and that’s okay. Our differences are what make humankind so amazing. You are not stupid just because you don’t get 100% on every single assignment or test. Your worth is not made up of percentages. Some days will be harder than others. School won’t be super easy, and that’s okay! School is about challenging your mind. Embrace the challenge.
Lastly, and most importantly: You are not a failure because you are no longer considered a gifted student. I promise.
I’m a gifted student turned average college student. And I’m proud of my accomplishments.