I’m Not Stupid

Dear all the math and science teachers I’ve ever had,

I know I don’t understand imaginary numbers. I’m sorry I just can’t get the hang of Lewis dot structures. From what you see of me in class, you must think I’m not the brightest student. After all, everybody else seems to be understanding your material. They’re all light years ahead of me.

But I want you to think about the girl behind the grade book. I like to write poetry and short stories. When I’m sad, I make up my own piano songs to make me feel better. I’ve been keeping a diary every day for over three years. The meaning of existence is a daunting topic, but I like to think about it anyway. I love reading. I’m a good prank-caller. I do everything I can to be an inspiring person. My favorite bands are Coldplay and Nirvana. I’m fascinated by the 2016 election. I want you to know that there’s so much more to me than the incorrect scrawl on the tests I turn in.

I’m not stupid.

-Me

Listen to Children

I am very tired of the “children are to be seen and not heard” mentality. We teach our young ones to talk and walk, and then spend years trying to get them to shut up and sit down. Their dreams and opinions too often go unheard, or at least not taken seriously, because of their age.

Why can’t we take interest in what children are thinking, and encourage them to think and create? We should empower their voices. This world would be a better place if we listened to the lessons children can teach us, because everybody can make a difference. In this world, we need all hands on deck, and there are age-appropriate ways for children to help out, too. Kindness knows no age.

 

100 Lessons

100 lessons, big or small, that I’ve learned in the sixteen years I’ve been alive.

  1. Reading is for everyone.
  2. Practice makes progress–not perfect.
  3. Love yourself unconditionally.
  4. Have that extra piece of pie.
  5. Smile at everyone you pass.
  6. Strength and bravery are often overrated.
  7. Hot showers are healing.
  8. Sometimes, it’s better to break down than to stay strong.
  9. You can like both One Direction and Nirvana.
  10. Rules are made to be rewritten.
  11. Don’t change the radio station too much.
  12. Be open-minded, but not so much so that you no longer stand for anything.
  13. Embrace life’s contradictory nature.
  14. Don’t apologize for being yourself and taking care of your needs.
  15. Let the phone ring.
  16. Things often aren’t as bad as they seem.
  17. There’s no such thing as a perfect person.
  18. Feelings aren’t choices, but actions are.
  19. Ask before hugging.
  20. Some problems are too heavy to carry alone.
  21. Men’s deodorant is better.
  22. Everything can be analyzed, but not everything can be known.
  23. Question your beliefs.
  24. Go out of your way to step on crunchy leaves.
  25. Listerine is not a good mosquito repellent.
  26. Incorporate your flaws and imperfections into your unique personality.
  27. It’s not your job to “prevent men from stumbling.”
  28. Dirty humor is like salt. A little can enhance, too much ruins everything.
  29. Taking selfies doesn’t make you vain.
  30. Skepticism and faith complement each other.
  31. Keep a journal.
  32. Don’t miss the moment taking a picture of it.
  33. Everyone shows love in different ways.
  34. Smell everything in the shampoo aisle.
  35. Keep a hair tie on you at all times.
  36. Learn how to turn off the music and listen to silence.
  37. Seeing a therapist doesn’t make you weak.
  38. Oral anesthetic gel does nothing for bug bites.
  39. Get lost in your imagination.
  40. Log out of Facebook.
  41. Learn to laugh at yourself a little.
  42. Growing can hurt.
  43. Nothing gets done in your comfort zone.
  44. Rip off the bottom part of the cupcake and put it on top of the icing to make a great sandwich.
  45. Wear all kinds of clothing styles.
  46. Quit boxing yourself in.
  47. Tell yourself you’re beautiful.
  48. Discover music that gives you shivers.
  49. Always keep a case on your phone.
  50. Don’t treat your friends and family like therapists.
  51. It’s better to fail than to cheat.
  52. Everybody is broken in some way.
  53. Learn how to stop talking.
  54. Don’t clap after every movement.
  55. Bless yourself after sneezing.
  56. Make a bucket list.
  57. Taking medication doesn’t make you weak.
  58. Feelings are actually pretty badass.
  59. Traditions can be good.
  60. Pay attention to your own emotions.
  61. Take study breaks.
  62. Sometimes it’s better to do things your own way.
  63. The hardest part of running is getting out the door.
  64. Not everything is true for everyone.
  65. Research different types of logical fallacies.
  66. Be flexible, but not spineless.
  67. If everyone was a leader, nothing would get done.
  68. A little extra butter is okay.
  69. Snooze your alarm a few times.
  70. There is life outside your mind.
  71. Keep lip balm in your backpack.
  72. Everybody has different gifts and talents.
  73. Grades are not a measure of intelligence.
  74. Dance when you’re at home alone.
  75. Don’t cut yourself off from the world.
  76. Try something you’re bad at.
  77. You don’t have to wash your jeans every time you wear them.
  78. Music is powerful.
  79. Taste your meat before salting it.
  80. Speak kindly to yourself.
  81. You’re never too old for swings.
  82. There is poetry in everything.
  83. Wander without a destination.
  84. Don’t let your feet get too cold.
  85. Invest in good bras.
  86. Try mindful breathing.
  87. Write something.
  88. Know your limits.
  89. Cutting corners isn’t always bad.
  90. Let your loved ones know you care about them.
  91. Nobody is worthless.
  92. Don’t substitute cane sugar for powdered sugar when you’re baking a cake.
  93. Women are powerful.
  94. You don’t have to be happy all the time.
  95. Take long walks.
  96. Go people-watching.
  97. Don’t like your own Facebook statuses.
  98. You’ll find somewhere to belong someday.
  99. Maybe you’re wrong.
  100. Love yourself, love others, and be who you are. 

The Personal Relevance of School

All these teachers tell us, “This class is relevant because it will teach you critical thinking skills.” But is it critical thinking to spit out equations on a worksheet of busywork just for an A? Is it critical thinking to memorize a list of words only to forget it after a quiz?

I want my education to be relevant to me personally. I’m never going to have to graph a cubic function, find significant figures, or balance an equation, but I’m forced to chew and swallow all of those lessons anyways, because they “will help me learn thinking and working skills for real life.” I don’t want to be lied to. I’d rather the teachers straight-up tell me that their class will never be relevant if I’m not going into that specific field. If I could go to school and spend the whole day taking classes that will leave a mark on my life, I would be excited to wake up every morning. Deep down, I love learning. You wouldn’t know it from most of the classes I’m taking, but I do. A love of learning isn’t necessarily indicated by good grades or the timeliness of homework completion. People want to learn different things. Students might even be excited for school every morning if they were allowed to take classes that would fascinate them. Of course, nothing can be fun all the time, and there are certain basic math and science concepts that must be grasped, but can’t there be some way of letting us thrive?

Everybody is curious about something. I believe that everyone really does want to learn. The problem is that we’re not being educated–we’re being schooled.