“I am not my intelligence”

For quite some time I refused to be the student who raised her hand in class to give an answer that she knew. The competitiveness of the students in the classrooms was so high I felt I couldn’t keep up. It is draining to be called dumb, to hear a teacher say, “There’s no stupid questions only stupid people” right after I asked a question, to be branded as stupid because of my problems with the English language. I learned to attend class only because it was required and try to be invisible to the rest of the school.

I have found it quite interesting how I was labeled as “really smart” in my younger years when I attended school in Mexico and became the complete opposite when my family migrated to the U.S. Nothing was ever the same. I struggled with school, I struggled with making friends, I struggled with learning the norms of the new culture, and all people saw when they looked at me was another stupid kid going nowhere. I tried, I really tried to prove that I was more than they saw, that my grades weren’t a complete reflection of me. But when I started high school I couldn’t keep up. I was moved out of Advanced Placement classes, to honors, then out of honors to regular classes, and so then I became another not smart enough student. It was a miracle I graduated high school. Attending college was more of my mother’s idea than mine.

College was not that much different in the first year. I could hear other students making comments on how stupid I was for not being able to speak at a college level, or write at one. I clearly remember asking someone to help me with one of my papers and after reading only the first paragraph saying they couldn’t do it because they couldn’t stand so many mistakes. It began to get in the way again. I began to question why I was in college. At the same time something else began to confuse me, the professors were returning my exams and essays with A’s and B’s. The only explanation I could find was that half of my courses were remedial. Then I took English 101, preparing myself for failure from the first day of class. Yet, somehow knowing that the professor wouldn’t accept failure made me work hard to pass his class. It was from then on with his help that I found what had been missing all along, I found my motivation.

There’s much more to me than my intelligence. I am not simply an I.Q. score. I am not my GPA. I am not the labels that society has placed on me for so long. I may not be the brightest, but I am not stupid, even if sometimes I still feel the weight of that label on my shoulders. I am not my intelligence, I am simply me.