There have been many times in my life where I’ve considered my position in life and those around me. I looked round in classrooms, in libraries, and wondered whether I should be working as hard as those people next to me, or whether I should be as smart as those fellow classmates standing at the front of the classroom.
Many times I’ve wondered whether I’ve as good as those people, as smart, as hard working, as resilient as those people. Growing up asian, it’s been ingrained in you to feel as though your academic achievements are a reflection of who you are.
I’m from a small town in the UK, and growing up I was indeed considered very smart, I was always placed into a class above my year during tutoring lessons, and I had in fact got the highest grade in my school during the exams to enter secondary school (high school). In my small town, these were exams to enter selective schools. Selective school entry was based on this exam you had at 11 years old. For the last 2 years I had been training to pass these tests to get into selective school. There we are, I saw those grades and thought they reflected who I was. A studious student.
I wasn’t. I had just succumbed to the fact my parents wanted me to do really well, and so I did. Getting the highest grade in the school felt mildly satisfying, seeing as I had just beat out another girl who had been bragging about how high of a score she got (she was then told by somebody else that I had in fact beat her, which left a sour taste in her mouth).
Then reality hit me, for a while I had been a smart girl in a small school, and then I went to that selective school, where everybody else had also gotten high grades to get there. I was really put in my place. Mostly mentally, and being shy which I wrote about here:(https://medium.com/@julieehe/why-you-should-never-be-afraid-to-speak-39fd2fe1a866), I was really put into my place.
This was when I discovered that my grades aren’t a reflection of who I am, my parents expectations of me weren’t who I was. I wasn’t studying because I thought it was fun or that I was passionate, I just really wanted that identity of what my parent’s thought I was to be who I am.
It pays to be the smallest fish in the big sea. You start to realise that you can be anybody you want, because nobody is really paying attention to you. Other’s expectations of you are born out of their own desires, and how you reflect their desires into your own life. Once you start thinking for yourself, you’ll realise what you’re doing for yourself, and what you’re doing for other people.
Always choose yourself, because they’ll always choose themselves.