Learning to change

I was always the academic kid. You know, the one who wakes up every day actually looking forward to learning something. Or the one that always has some random trivia to share that was something they learned back in first grade. Or the one who consistently gets high marks on every test and brags about their "straight A+'s". The teacher's pet, the nerd, the smarty-pants; call them what you wish, but everyone knows who I'm talking about.

And the thing is, I didn't mind. School came easy to me, and I found joy in filling my mind with knowledge. The facts stayed stuck in my head and were perfectly accessible when I needed them. You could never separate me from a book, and as a result I was very proficient in spelling and writing. No one wanted to peer-edit with me, because while my paper would come back with a generic "great story," I would return my partner's covered in red marks pointing out every single grammatical error. And forget studying! That word wasn't even part of my vocabulary.

But as wake up times got earlier, lessons weren't as interactive, and tests became more numerous, my "golden child" streak had started to falter. Middle school was when it really started. Seven classes a day was a big transition, and I was not handling it as well as I should've. I could no longer cruise by, relying on my mighty brain to remember the facts. I was looking through my diary, and here's something I wrote from around that time, "You know how I said school was easy and boring? Not anymore! I have to study to keep getting A's." At last, school was catching up to me. This was also when I discovered the true meaning of the word "procrastinate". Every day revolved around the question, "How late can I get this done and still have decent quality work?"

It's not like I didn't care about my grades. I absolutely did. It's just that I still expected to be able to put in the same amount of work into middle school as I did preschool and get satisfactory results. I found out that to get a 4.0 GPA, you didn't even have to get an A plus. So why should I even try? I asked friends to use their app that calculates the absolute lowest you can get on the final and still have at least an A in the class. I was going for the bare minimum.

It didn't help that I had lost my desire to learn either. I tried to act interested, but I was usually tired and didn't see a point in learning. Trusted adults confirmed I would never use most of what I learned in real life anyway. And in some classes, I didn't have anyone I felt I could connect with. I was just living to get to the next day, and the next day, and the next.

This year, I had a kind of reawakening. The future looked bright. I'd heard so many amazing stories about the high school. I started the year optimistic and I was not disappointed at all. As the year progressed, I felt my passion for learning coming back.

So I did something radical. At the end of the year, I decided to study for my for finals a full week in advance. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me, it was like starting my summer work the day after school let out.

You know what happened? Those finals were the easiest ones I've taken. I received outstanding grades on all of them. This process of preparing and studying wasn't just an overnight decision. It was something I'd been working ever since I entered the high school. And this year I realized that I had to step it up, and even though it may be tough at the time, it's worth it. And not just for the grades, either. I can actually think when I have my work finished. Fulfilling my obligations makes me feel relaxed, and I am able to enjoy whatever I am doing in the moment.

And on that note, I think I'll go get started on my summer homework.