I grew up under the impression that “A” stood for ‘acceptable’. Be it my traditional immigrant parentage (which I’m sure the Tiger Mom would consider too lenient) or an inexplicable self-imposed standard, excellence was the expectation.
Of course I wasn’t stirred when told in grade 3 that I could do math at a grade 6 level and didn’t have to go to math class anymore. I already knew from the workbooks my mother brought home that I could perform at a higher level than was expected of most 8 year olds. It’s not that I thought I was especially bright. My parents prudently never communicated that I was better or smarter. Maybe they just made the work too easy.
It shocked me in middle school to learn that a C+ was ‘average’. It’s as if I didn’t understand how someone could only know 67% of the answers. I definitely didn’t study especially hard, come to think of it, did anyone ‘study’ in middle school? Things just came easily to me.
For as long as I can remember, Exceeds expectations was my comfort zone; a place I thought I would seldom leave.
After more than a month of deliberation, analysis and discussion, we finally receive the results of our December exams. In reality, it doesn’t really matter. Our school just became one of the last in the country to relinquish the H (Honours), now we all just Pass or Fail. It’s a popular saying amongst my classmates that P=MD; produce a 60 and you get to put those two swanky letters behind your name in four years. Yet the faculty provide us with a very thorough breakdown of our results, standard deviations for every small subset of evaluations included.
First I look for the Ps. Are they all there? Do I get to feel like 3/8′s of a doctor yet? Yes indeed!
Next comes the numbers as I rummage through the cobwebs of my memory for stats I learned in undergrad. What does it mean to be in or outside a standard deviation again? Is that a big standard deviation? Skewed? Tails?
I realize I’m completely and unequivocally average.
I’ll remind you again that average was a bad word in my vocabulary. I hate average. Even the thought of the word slightly scares me. It suggests that I didn’t work hard enough, that I could have done better, and just didn’t. It’s similar to the feeling of realizing that you filled-in the wrong bubble on a multiple-choice exam. You knew better, you just didn’t show it.
I forget what average means now. Average means I’m within the league of the amazing, talented, and incredibly caring people I aspire to be. Average is something I should, but struggle to be proud of.