Yesterday I ran into my …I don’t know if it exists in English, but here, we have a teacher whose primary concern is a class that tha teacher or the head-master picks, every four years. If that class gets in trouble, it will be, first of all that teacher’s fault for not telling the class how to behave better. It’s the teacher that yells at the class or at you if you or the entire class did something bad, it is that teacher which delivers those long speeches about what’s good or bad to you and your classmates and the one lectures the class after something goes wrong. Something like a tutor, but most likely a teacher that teaches to that class as well.
Well, I ran into that person yesterday while at the supermarket and I was like “Don’t be rude, say hello” and I did. Turns out her younger daughter knew who I was,although my contact with her was minimal in the past 7 years, but that woman didn’t have the slightest clue about who I was. It’s like I was a complete stranger to, although I went Christmas caroling to her house every year with my class, I was one of the great students in her class and I kind of thought I would be remembered. Guess what, it didn’t happened.
True, it’s been a while since fifth grade but you expect to have an impact in school, that people you cared about would care about your existence as well and would remember: “Oh, you graduated in 2008, I remember you”.
There was a thing in high school that left a mark on me. We were fewer in this class than in the class I was a part of before and I had this English teacher who was amazing. Literally, the reason why I write so well and I am this good at English is her; she did thousands of grammar exercises with us, she encouraged us, she liked when we were creative in our writing and truly appreciated us.All this made English class a true pleasure for me. I even went to sit a Cambridge exam because of her encouragement and I worked hard to be great by the time I went there. And I was angry that I was two small points away from getting an A and obviously she was like : “you? you didn’t get an A?!”, Anyways, it didn’t stop her from liking us during our last year of high school. Then, there came the very last week, the report cards needed to be finished as we graduated earlier than the other students, to prepare for the final exam that would get us into college. Turns out they had to calculate my English grade. And turns out I was on the very same level as the best girl in class, which went to competitions and won prizes in English competitions. I wasn’t the kind to go to those competitions because I was more of a history girl. She was some shining star, although she didn’t talk much during classes, she was rather mute. It was an enigma for me how she actually got to be so appreciated, what was her secret? But anyways, I left her to her contests, I got ready for my things, excelled on my own terms and fuck it, I wasn’t there to please them, I was there to please my brain’s hunger for knowledge. And when that moment came when I was on the same level as her, I was proud: what I worked for paid off and I think I deserved my grades. But the teacher said something like ” You know, you (referring to me) are very good at English and yes, you’re in the same situation as … (that girl), but I can’t give you an A+ for your contribution this semester, but an A-. She deserves an A+”. Evidently, during a tie, somebody loses, but God, I didn’t expect it would be me. Nobody expected that they wouldn’t give us both an A+, as it wasn’t a big deal and many of my classmates considered both of us on the same level of proficiency. They didn’t want me to get the first prize at the end of the school year, so my average score by the end of my last year of high school was 9,93 . So no 10s for me, no no.
What upset me and what gave me that feeling of mild resentment for all those years in high school in which I thought I would be better, was not the fact that I was 0,07 points short to the maximum grade, but the fact they they were not just in their judgment. I had worked just as hard as her, I had my own successes, just like her, I was a regular human being, with my good days when I would give the best answers and my bad days when you couldn’t get a word out of me and I wasn’t perfect, but I guess that’s what every person should be.
I never trusted those whose perfection was so flawless and whose successes came so easily. At some point in their life those successes would always crumble and I was always there to see it, although I was not involved in anything. I didn’t try to undermine anybody’s success, because I always thought that what’s mine, I’m gonna get and I’m not going to have to struggle for it. Obviously, work was necessary, but that’s not a struggle when you like what you do. That’s why I always tried to perfect myself, but on my own parameters, not on anybody else’s. But still, while I graduated I felt sad, that kind of sad in which you second guess everything, you look for flaws in you or for mistakes you made that lost you your good graces.
In History, I was a rock star. I always knew the lesson I was asked to know, I always liked learning everything in the smallest detail and damn, my memory is great. I read extra too, I wanted to know the things that not everybody knew, just because I wanted to know everything. My teacher noticed my interest for her subject, so she recommended that I went to the local history competition. I got there a first prize, the teacher couldn’t believe it, I went to the regionals. At the regionals, I was 0,25 points far from the first prize and the teacher was angry at the committee that corrected the papers. The girl who won the prize and went to the nationals was friends with the chief of the committee that corrected the papers after the contest itself and although her paper was anonymous (the names of the candidates were covered) she knew whose paper she had to give the first prize to. (based on knowing that girl’s writing, perhaps?) My professor was optimistic, my paper got a lot of praise, everybody said it was well written and the other half of the committee gave me the higher grades so I would go to the nationals, but the other candidate got to go, as, guess what, the chief of the committee gave her those extra 0,25 points that would differentiate her from me. I couldn’t do anything as what my teacher heard was from somebody who supervised those who corrected the papers. She congratulated me for my result, and said that I’ll get the first prize next year.
I went again next year and the teacher courted the girl from the English teacher story as well, as she got the first prize in English, and hey, someone like that could get straight A’s in History too, right? She didn’t want to go, but she went with me, we talked. She was my friend at the time and I never considered her my arch-enemy, like…ever. We went to the regionals, both of us. The thing was that what we had to know for the competition wasn’t as consistent as what I had to learn the year before, and no matter what I read it seemed a sort of eternal repetition of something I already knew. I did my best and came out third, with my colleague first. Again, congratulations. That was on a Sunday. On Tuesday, we had History class. I was to get an A for my participation and the teacher gave it to both of us, then she asked me questions from the previous lesson. To which I was absent. I said I didn’t know what had been discussed in class, as she said I could have the week to prepare and that I shouldn’t worry about anything. She got angry. I got scared. She said she’ll fail me, even though minutes earlier she gave me a 10. I had all 10s, obviously, I liked History even more than English. Then I saw that teacher’s real side and the fact that she didn’t truly care about me, that although I was her golden star, that had suddenly gone in the past. Now I was a sort of nobody. I felt like crying, right there, but not because I was scared of a bad grade, but because being so conscious about the reality of the situation, was heartbreaking. Then, as if she were doing me a service, she forgave me for coming unprepared to her class, and I knew it was just an act, everything was done to humiliate me in front of my classmates and to show me that I irrevocably fell from grace forever. Either way, I continued to study for her subject, as it wasn’t History’s fault that she had a change of heart with me. I ignored when she said that oh, that colleague of yours is excellent, I ignored the fact that she got a second prize at the nationals, so yeah, there were students that were better than her, but that was no biggie for the teacher, she couldn’t help praising her either way. I finished high school third in my class, fifth in my year and damn, when I saw my final results, I felt like a million bucks, although I wasn’t straight As, but close.
Now I’m about to finish college and I’m thinking that if those teachers probably don’t remember me in a class of 30 students, then I’m completely forgettable in a group of 70. It’s sad that teachers don’t know your name, they hardly remember your face, they like you, think you’re great, then wait a second, no, you’re not. You think that during your pseudo-career that is your school for some time, you ought to acquire some status, some…something. Well, you don’t. They are going to forget about you, they’ll disappoint the following generations and this is going to go on forever. Even the best of them. You’ll be just a name in the records, among many who have graduated with you. If you fight against it, you’ll be the disruptive one, the one that has a problem that need to be adjusted by the higher educational authorities. But honestly, better be disruptive, cause although you mind your own business as they tell you, doing that will only secure your place in oblivion.
But better yet, do things for yourself. Not for your parents, not for your colleagues, not for your teachers. If nobody’s gonna clap for you, do the victory dance anyway, by yourself, just to be proud that you acquired something and you know a bit more than you did yesterday. Teachers, tutors, they’ll all forget about you, because you weren’t good enough, perfect enough, vocal enough, but you’ll be the only one that is truly glad of your success, the rest are just fugitive shadows that time is gonna eat away.