Back to the 4th grade

Time travel is a mystery humanity’s  long fought to solve. With theories like the quantum theory and movies like avengers endgame revolving around it, time travel is sought after for its ability to help change past events, fix current problems, and survey the future. Now picture we have a time machine that would only allow us to go into the past and change one aspect  that shaped us , what would you change? Your score on that “40% of your final grade” math test? The friends you chose? Not going out that night?  There’s ton’s you might want to change, want to prevent. But I believe the one thing we should change, if anything, is our mindset. How we make sense of the world, its problems,  and ourselves.

Let’s go back to the 4th grade. That was when I first learned  the  term ‘gifted’. My math teacher was splitting us into small groups by grade level and I got put in the group with kids who were , in her words,  above average. She said that we excelled in almost everything she gave us and would like to give us more challenging work to keep our minds moving while she helped the other kids catch up. It wasn’t only her though. Other teachers in the school would say the same, they would praise us and talk about how intelligent we were. Our friends would start to rely on us for answers and our hands were always expected to be up when a teacher asked a question. Because of the constant praise, encouragement , attention, and expectations I started to slack off and disregard what the teachers would teach, I knew I could just search it up anyways. I would feel I was too good for certain activities and I started using the trust I had to my advantage.

When you’re smart you’re seen as respectable and trustworthy. A’s and B’s make you a good kid. So when teachers started sending me on errands and asking me to go into rooms that kids were not usually allowed to go into, my feeling of pomp and entitlement increased tremendously. I would go into the lounge, lounge around, go through desks and drawers, read files on the students and eat whatever candy was lying around. I felt grown. Like I was an adult. I didn’t play tag at recess anymore, didn’t play hopscotch. I sat around and talked with my friends as I watched other kids scream and jump. I wasn’t lonely or was I mean, it was just my pride and the higher expectations that prevented me from participating in fun activities like a normal kid, ‘ungifted’ kid. It was the title of gifted that made me miss out on fun childhood experiences.

If I could go back in time, I would have changed the way I responded to “giftedness.” I would think of my ability to understand things quicker as something average. Right now, in the present,  I’m surrounded by a bunch of Straight A , gifted/ talented kids. I am not special. I don’t have the right to feel pompous. I don’t need to not participate in fun activities because a title didn’t allow me to act silly or childish. I can be myself here and anywhere. But I can’t go back in time, nor can I change past experiences. But that’s OK. The point of the past is to learn and grow from your mistakes. So to  any youngin who’s reading this, to any gifted talented genius who stumbled upon this article, you’ll be called a lot of great names and you will do a lot of great things. Be nonchalant towards those titles and don’t let the praise get to your head. Act like a normal kid and indulge in the pleasures of youth. Remember, you are not defined by other people’s opinions of you. You define you.

Lyn Birabil – Loyola Academy – DMSF Class of 2027

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash