Frankly, I don’t blame them.
My friends seem to have the impression that I don’t do anything but play video games all the time and still somehow do well in school and still somehow juggle all the extracurricular in my life. I don’t practice. I don’t study. I never do my homework until the night before. I have no right to complain when my marks aren’t up to par.
To some extent, this impression is accurate. I procrastinate and I don’t like to spend my time studying or practicing the white and black keyed instrument that sits quaintly in my living room. Still, I put effort into everything and anything I do. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it well. I simply don’t like to linger too long on things that I don’t enjoy. I simply like to be efficient, that’s all.
My elementary school crush said to me at a New Year’s Party, “My respect for you has just dropped significantly”, upon discovering that I hadn’t started on any of my winter break homework through it was a week into the break. The statement shocked me in a way I didn’t expect. Mostly it was who it came from that cracked a bit of my mentality. He reminded me of who I was, and how doing well in school meant the world to me back when I was a little child. He and I were the math nerds of a grade two class – the teacher separated us from the rest of the class because we had done surprisingly well on a test. We would do math problems in the corner of the room during the math periods, occasionally helping our classmates when they had problems with math. We laughed and challenged each other to see who could get the answer first. Sometimes he would and other times, I would. Math was fun to me then. School was fun to me then. School was fun because I enjoyed what I was learning, because everything seemed to have a place in my little mind.
He was also the reason for my first confrontation with the idea of a “crush”. A girl whom I didn’t particularly socialize with – granted, at the time, I didn’t really socialize all that much – cornered me one lunch time near the garden that was between the elementary and intermediate playgrounds. The garden was an area that was often vacated due to its plainness and inutility. I liked it though. I thought the plants understood me more than my classmates did. She told me, “Please don’t like him because I do.” I took the hint. So then I let go of my elementary school crush. He moved away after that grade so I suppose it wouldn’t have really mattered. I stopped liking math.
I didn’t stop liking school though, not for a long while. Not until it was cool to not like school. I suppose I just wanted to fit in, wanted to feel like I could also adopt the attitudes of the populous and sing along to their status quo. I never really did though. I still really haven’t.
In any case, when I stop liking something, I don’t try as hard. The girl who poured her heart into every project in elementary school died with graduation. In grade seven, I was seriously depressed. I wrote poetry with my sunken heart, but it didn’t take any of the pain away. I did a project in the shape of a bunny – as at the time I was obsessed with bunnies and they had a significance to me. I used language that highlighted the sorrow in my life. I suppose that was a desperate attempt to reach out to my teacher. I think I really did get to him because he was always really kind to me. He let me fold cranes in class when I was supposed to be reading and he always smiled when I showed him something that I had made. He still remembered me when I went to visit in grade nine and help with the Sports Day. Just that alone made me happy for the rest of the day.
I did all my homework in elementary school. Finished all my projects and most times went beyond any expectations. I read a lot, going through every section of the library. From factual books about emperor penguins to twilight, I read it all. I studied. I wrote in a journal, upon the advice of my grade three teacher. I skated and swam, played badminton, volleyball, and basketball for fun – though I have never been any good at any sport. I played video games too. I have always played video games. But I used to put my work first. I used to.
All those years of trying, of self development, and of enjoying school taught me how to be efficient. I don’t take as long as other people to type up an essay or to come up with an idea for a visual element. I don’t take as much time to understand a concept. But I don’t do enough. I don’t try enough.
My best friend of about fourteen years told me one day after school that I had to start trying. If I didn’t stop gaming, if I didn’t put more effort in the work I do, then I would have no right to complain when my marks aren’t as great as my expectations. She knew I could do better. I suppose I know that too. It’s the last year of high school. I’m supposed to try my hardest. But that’s not how life works for me. When I do work, I will try my hardest. When I don’t want to do it however, every single cell in my body will resist effectively performing the work.
I was really upset that she was lecturing me. I know it was for my own good, but it left me feeling bitter.
I have tried in school. I used to try in school. I tried so hard that I was blind to all else. I tried so hard but it got me nowhere. I couldn’t make friends when I was trying. I couldn’t make the sadness go away. Gaming helps distract me. It has helped me to become acquainted with people that I can talk to, that I can express myself to. Not school. Not trying. I stopped trying as hard because I couldn’t handle it. I still can’t handle it.
I’m sorry I’m not the ideal International Baccalaureate student. I’m sorry I never will be.
The funny thing is, despite all this not trying, I’m still doing better than she is. Perhaps there was a twinge of envy in her tone when she was lecturing me. I suppose I’ll never know.
I couldn’t talk to anyone when I was trying in school, when I was putting a hundred percent of myself into everything I did.
I’m doing my best, okay?
Gradually, I’ll learn to try again. But for now, let me take my time. I know it’s an important time to be trying, but let me do it at my own pace.