REFLECTION: I will never be as “worthy” as I should be


Isabella Bonilla

The first pink rose blossoms of spring represent gratitude, joy and peace.

Isabella Bonilla

I will never be as “worthy” as I should. 

I did not earn Governor Scholar. Or National Merit Scholar. I still haven’t even taken the ACT yet (the practice tests appreciate nothing but my lackluster math scores) and god forbid I even acknowledge the SAT. I only belong to a total of three clubs, and no matter how many times I run, never quite manage to snatch a leadership position. This is the first year I’ve ever taken an AP class, let alone four (Sometimes I pretend not to see the C after countless hours studying and obsessively marking up potential scholarships) and my GPA definitely isn’t a perfect 5.0. 

To many, I might as well be failing or considered a subpar student. To me, I’m doing the best I can and soaking up everything I can learn.  

In fifth grade, I read at a high school level and in sixth grade, I read all thousand pages of “Les Miserables.” I read not because I wanted to but because I needed to, to submerge my soul underneath something other than the crushing weight of my own futility. My greatest joy was later used to shame my peers and begin a game of comparisons — and no, not by my other peers. This escape from the rampant competition was, ironically, transformed into another competition. One that continues to sicken me with guilt to this very day. 

I am not a success story. I am not a “gifted” child. I am not an object that desires to be lavished upon with trinkets of petty affection and categorized by alphabetical systems of despair. 

I thought it was enough, but it’s never enough. I’m never enough, am I? And whenever I am deemed “enough,” it’s not good enough to leave me be. You have to weaponize my own successes and whip my peers, dangle me from the stage and taunt them to jump higher. 

Some adults love to pick on children because it makes them feel superior to their own lack of depth. They play make-believe with our lives and spin the story to achieve their wants. They say we’re the future and yet continue to jack us up, one thought at a time until we’re drunk on the very prospect of being “gifted” and hungover several years later with the reality that we’ve burned out. What exactly is your end goal, I ask? Is the money not exchanging hands fast enough?

We’re shamed into submission with comparisons to third-world countries. “Don’t be wasteful, some kids don’t even have access to education!” or “There are others who have it much harder than you do.” And they do. Millions of children across the globe and even in our own country are slaves. But just because something exists doesn’t mean it isn’t saturated with some of the same evil principles humanity battles elsewhere. 

Granted, there are those who do squander their opportunities or utilize the shards of our education system as a scapegoat. Those who whine and dig themselves ditches rather than finding ways to strengthen their character. 

 I am not that child — no, I am not that human being. You’ll never hear me whine or dismiss this beautiful world of opportunities. I simply refuse to live under the sludge you’ve created and designed. Sorry, I don’t generate enough revenue or sensational attraction for your corporation, but I’m not looking for a “trophy” or in desperation to explain my worth as a human being any longer. 

I present to you my words after realizing that volunteering is now a competition, as is who’s suffered more (since that definitely means you’ve worked the hardest) and who can finish the most college before even graduating high school. Education is no longer about prestige, honor or wealth of knowledge; it’s just plain insanity and smells of downright greed. I’m just so glad to be part of a system that values the end product more than the process (as long as the product is of acceptable quality, that is) and lets the highest bidder administer us politically correct lessons. 

This is the fleeting reality that twists my words, tangles my tongue and makes a fool of myself when confronted with the grand question of what’s next. Because my life isn’t just about education; at least, not in the sense that we so deeply revel and praise in this society. What news is it to me if I can perform oxidation-reduction equations but not tempt fate with the most intriguing of community advances? 

If I cannot put down in life what I have put down on paper then I myself am a hypocrite, choking on the very lessons never properly applied. This is not my ode against school — rather, a proclamation provoking a call to action, a call to utilize the skills our ancestors blossomed from and rose to their great heights. Man should be nothing if not prudent with our time and yet we stand in politically correct lies, wasting away beneath frivolities. 

Besides me my parents grow no younger, my relationships no stronger and the sanctions of my own mentality begin to fade. Alas, this test sees a higher score than the last, raising the accreditation I’ll receive from the private institution that puppet strings my so-called ‘future’. None the matter that come next year, I’ll have forgotten over three-fourths the material, never to encounter such prattle again in any useful application in life.

Of course, the greatest skills learned here aren’t the material — it’s how to impress. Look at these things I do, volunteering and leadership positions and good grades and the perfect honor student.  Am I not impressive to you? Is it the hollow feeling when I hear the word friendship or family and there’s no task to fill the void? Have I not torn myself apart enough for your liking, not thrown myself in enough directions, scattered to the winds like my very sanity in desperation to prove my worth? 

Forgive me if my unwillingness to follow blindly into a descent of pretentious uselessness does not amaze you. I would rather be deemed “unimpressive” than a false god, reveled in what’s considered “accomplished” under the eyes of haughty elites. I’d rather be remembered by no name than that of burnout or shadow of my former self. 

I would be perfectly content to love my community and foster its growth on my own. I would be perfectly content to be honored with learning the skills I so desire to learn (but midwifery isn’t “prestigious enough”). What once brought satisfaction and happiness now lures in guilt and confusion, frustration at the lack of my own devices to be better, do better and achieve more. I don’t want nor need more — I already had more than enough. My happiness and love have become buried under the mountain of expectations that traversed upon me.

I refuse to let “education” define my entire life any longer. All I desire is to be that which sees compassionate love and the exceptionally ordinary in a system of unrealistic definitions. 

I will never be as “worthy” as I should, and I’m okay with that. 

Thank you for your time. 

*A side note to all those who truly represent the deepest passions of education and who foster and guide the beautiful spark humanity can be. We owe it to your dedication and sacrifices. Thank you for being true educators, both inside and outside of the classroom.