05 January 2011

4 the legacy

the number one goal of my life from the ages of 6 to 22 was success at school.

i wasn't ever going to be the valedictorian or even always get A's, and thanks to ear infections, i didn't have perfect attendance until my senior year. it is very possible that i never lived up to my full potential, but that didn't stop me from completing assignments weeks in advance of their due date and, in college, being the girl who read books at parties.

there was always this compulsion to do well and the accompanying sense that i would be letting everyone down if i didn't.

i attributed this to the fact that i came from a family full of intelligent people. people who had, no doubt, excelled in their academic pursuits and attained heights of intellectual achievement to which i could only hope to edge near. therefore, huge swaths of the young oline journals are given over to grades and studying and general worry about academics. for a signficant portion of my young life, i labored under the belief that i would die if i did not get into the top 10%.

it wasn't until this past thanksgiving that it was revealed my labors had been driven by a myth. when, over leftover turkey and yams, my family sat around the kitchen table expounding upon how lousy they were at academics. all of them. turns out, i wasn't descended from a long line of intellectual achievers, but people who averaged B's and C's. happily.

i wonder who i might've become had i known this. i think i'm glad i didn't.


Les Savy Ferd said...

Yes, something about that magical high school top 10%. Even though I didn't keep a journal (although if there was an option to do so as a side quest in, say, some Super Nintendo video game I likely would have) but grades were a big concern for me. Probably because I was wretched at sports and girls were terrifying.

But in a class of 271 finishing 23 was seemingly all that mattered.

FWIW- the top 12 students in my '97 class (grade-wise) were all women and i was just one of 4 guys in the top 25.

Girls be learning, yo.

oline said...

bravo, pirate, on getting in. partner and i were in the top 11%. i'm pretty sure we made some sort of special homemade shirts or banners or sashes or something to commemorate the accomplishment as well.

and i love love the concept of journaling as a side quest.

oline said...

(please also note the hilarity of my young mom and dad)

Les Savy Ferd said...

duly noted. They look like regular rapscallions.