24 January 2011

to conform or not to conform; that is the question

Hello there friends. I hope you all had a good day.
I almost forgot what day of the week it was - Monday. Mondays are always the best because you are fresh and ready to start the week. I know they can be a bit of a drag, but they are better than Fridays, I think, because then you aren't ready to die from all the foolishness you've endured all week.
So today I want to share with you a small corner in the world of my philosophy. Everyone has their own philosophy, even if you don't realize it, because everyone bases their decisions on ideas that they already have ingrained in your mind. So anyways, today was one of those days when you get a bunch of assignments back because your teachers who don't really have much else to do grade all your work on the weekend. Let's start with AP Lang.
Mixed feelings about this class. Most of the time I feel trapped, because I know that what I think is not allowed to be expressed in the right way. This partly has to do with my rigid teacher who does not enjoy nonconformity very much and likes things to be orderly. So we wrote this essay the other day because it was going to be one of the essays on the AP exam. I got mine back and I got an 8, which is out of 9. I don't know where these score systems come from, but they are the way they are. I wasn't mad about the 8, I just thought I nailed it. It wasn't the most gorgeous piece of writing in the world, but it followed all the criteria and it was as all-inclusive as you could get. What's worse is that he read aloud one of the other essays that got a 9. It was poetic, perfect, and also written by a kid who is almost 2 years older than me. That really irritates me when people hold their kids back and wait until their 7 before they can go to kindergarten. I went when I was 5! I actually just turned 5. And I turned out alright, right? For the most part?
Anyways, I thought my essay, while it wasn't as eloquent as the examples, was well-written. And I almost thought it deserved a 9.

Next I went to anatomy, and it was the bets day ever, but not really. I hoped to get a 100 on the test, but I ended up getting an 85, which isn't bad for his tests. I was still disappointed because I knew everything - at least I thought I did. I could explain how taste buds receive impulses and how the gustatory cells could transmit the impulse to the brain. I knew all the conditions and diseases surrounding the eyes, ears, mouth, and nose (that was not a reference to the second verse of "head, shoulders, knees and toes"). I could make a moving diagram of how the ear conducts sound waves. But I didn't get a perfect score.
It's puzzling to me that when I work so hard I don't get the results I want. But what irks me more is when people say, "well, you should have studied more" or "try harder next time". It's disappointing to put in a large amount of effort and not be gain anything in return. I know that now I have a better understanding of the special senses, but who's going to care? I can't write on my transcript that I knew all the material, but I still got a 85 because the tests were not easy. It just doesn't work that way. I wish it did.
But I had to compartmentalize all these thoughts and store them for later. I wasn't going to let some mediocre grades ruin my day. And they didn't. I worried about them later. This summer I went to a swimming camp at Auburn University and Rowdy Gaines, who not only swam there but went on to the Olympics, was answering questions about swimming. He said that a lot of people ask him what he does when he loses a race or doesn't do well. He said that he leaves it all at the pool. He swam and it's over, so if he didn't do well he wasn't going to dwell on it. When he left the pool, so did his bad memories from the race. He came, he saw, he swam.
That was a great piece of advice. you can't let things get you down, even when a lot of things get you down. I knew I studied as hard as I could for that anatomy test. And I knew I tried my best. I knew I wrote the best essay I could and that I tried my best. But I didn't fail them or even get less than perfect. Perfect is a standard applied to something that depicts exactly what should be done or how something should appear. So in the instance of the AP test, "perfect" is writing an essay that conforms to standards. So if conforming is the only way to reach perfection in this sense, than is nonconformity failure? This is interesting because we always say "dare to be different" and "be who you want to be" and my favorite, "imitation is suicide", but we don't actually believe it. If you want to go far you have to play the game. By the rules.
I might not have met perfection in those standards, but I did where it most matters: my heart. And I would never trade my unconventional mind and creative thinking for anything, even a 5 on a AP exam or a 9 on an essay. Don't be afraid to be yourself and don't always listen to what others say about your work. You should be your most important critic.

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