I’m Not Academic, and That’s Okay

I’m Not Academic, and That’s Okay

From pretty much the beginning of primary school, I’ve been pegged as being one of the “smart” ones.  In fact, I remember my year 3 teacher telling my mum that I was a “really bright child”.  I had absolutely no idea what “bright” meant, but I knew that JK Rowling described Hermoine as it, so I assumed it was good.  However, the older I got, the more I felt the pressure to hold on to that “smart” image.  And that was hard, because I don’t consider myself smart.  Or, to be more specific, I definitely don’t consider myself academic.

My Brain Doesn’t Get It…

I’m not gonna sit here and say that I don’t understand anything.  I’d say that my mind is relatively logical, so I understand the basis of things.  However, I’ve never been a natural academic.  I think in school, people saw the marks I was getting and assumed it came easy but that was far from the case.

The first time I learn most things, they go straight over my head.  My brain shuts down really easily and I literally have to force information into it.  I enjoy learning new things, and I think people tend to equate that with smart.  However, me learning of new things consists of being sat with my laptop, a million study cards, highlighters and fine liners, getting to the root of whatever I’m reading.  That’s why I’ve always been drawn to English and creative writing.  I was able to do something that didn’t involve displaying intelligence and instead relied on my creativity.  This is the better half of my brain.

I think this reflected greatly during A Level French.  I spoke recently in a video about how I love french but I absolutely hated the A level, but I didn’t go into much detail.  Essentially, I had straight A*s in French from year 7, because I loved the language so I’d go home and study what I learnt for hours.  I still did that in sixth form, but because I wasn’t being taught much in class and I didn’t understand it, there was only so much I could do for myself.  This had a massive impact on my final grade, and a few people were shocked, but I wasn’t.  French never came naturally to me.  My grade just proved that my natural academic ability is not what people assume it is from my marks.

But You Get Good Grades?

And honestly, this is where the main problem lies.  I came out of secondary school far more impressed with my GCSE’s than I anticipated.  To me, my A levels show that yeah, I did pretty well.  I definitely met my own standards, and did better than I anticipated.  However, to those who consider me smart, they don’t look good enough.

I never expected to be the person to come out of school with 3 A*s.  Therefore, when I didn’t get them, I wasn’t at all surprise.  Yet, many people assumed that I’d be upset with my grades because they weren’t straight A*s.  People had forced this academic label onto me, and made their own preconceptions which ended up affecting me.  On A Level results day I went from being happy to questioning whether I should have done better.  But, two years later I can step back and say that I don’t think that I should have done better.  Despite what people seem to think, academia in no way comes naturally to me.  I actually find it incredibly difficult to get my head around.  I just work ridiculously hard constantly.  So, even if my grades weren’t the highest grades available, I’m so happy with how well I did.

But In Uni You Still Do Well?

In Uni I have around 8 hours of teaching time a week.  Therefore, I no longer have the “not being taught much” argument that I used for French earlier.  However, it still doesn’t mean I’m academic.  Yeah, I have 8 hours of uni a week, but I still spend around 7 hours a day (more if it’s essay time) on schoolwork.  I print out and alter at least 5 copies of an essay before I hand it in.  Exam season is spent cramming until the very last second.  I have to start my essays so long before they’re due in order to get a good grasp on them.  I have never been gifted with natural ability, but I make it work in the best way I can.

But You’re Smart Though?

Don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’ll accept being called smart over academic.  I don’t have natural academic ability, but I would say that I’m smart in the way I work.  I’ve spent probably around 7 years learning what works for me.  I know how my brain best processes information, and how to structure my essays to get the best grades for me.  There’s a difference between being academically gifted and smart in the way that you study and approach things.  I am probably smart in this way, but that doesn’t change the fact that academia had never remotely come easily for me.

Being branded the “smart kid” from a young age had a terrible impact on the way I perceived myself.  I knew how much I struggled and how hard I worked, but everybody convinced me that it came easy to me.  I used to beat myself up over average grades, because so many people told me I was better than that naturally.  It took a long time for me to get to grips with the fact that I’m not academic, and that’s okay.  I will do the best that I can to get the highest grade for me.  However, if that’s not the highest grade available, there’s nothing wrong with that.  All you can do is your best, and my best is good enough for me.

 

Hope you enjoyed this part rant, part exploration into academia and the term “smart”!  It was something a little bit different but I wanted to get it off my chest.  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Lots of love,

Jas xx

 

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48 Comments

  1. August 18, 2018 / 10:57 am

    This is so interesting to me – I can relate 100% to your story! I was always the ‘smart kid’ too and when I left school with 17 GCSE;s A* to B grade, people really just assume that you’re academic and expect you to do well without even trying! I never really tried with my GCSE’s but had to step up my game when it came to A levels and doing my degree! x

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 18, 2018 / 11:20 pm

      I’m so glad that you could relate!

      Jas xx

  2. August 18, 2018 / 7:32 pm

    I might have to write a response to this as a fellow kid that was stuck with the “smart” label. I think if anything though by the sounds of it you’ve shown that your hard work pays off, even if others don’t give you enough credit for it.

    -pixieskiesblog.wordpress.com xo

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 18, 2018 / 11:20 pm

      Awww thank you so much, I think it would be great to hear your perspective on this! I would love if you’d tag me in the response if you make it!

      Jas xx

  3. August 18, 2018 / 11:11 pm

    I love your reflection, as a teacher this is a treasure to be able to understand students. I think it is great that you don’t give so much importance to grades, but to giving your very best and trying to learn as much as you can. Maybe some people get A’s, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can use that knowledge

    Natalia | Lindifique

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 18, 2018 / 11:18 pm

      Awwww thank you, I’m so happy that you could read this from a teachers perspective! I still got some A’s (hence the whole perception) but I felt quite a few people were putting pressure on me to get a lot of A*s. Just felt I should voice it!

      Jas xx

  4. OurFour Suitcases
    August 19, 2018 / 10:29 am

    I think it is better to know that you have to work hard at getting good grades than getting them for not working hard. I got good grades and never did a day of studying. I remember everything that I hear and read quite easily so I rarely even took notes. What this poor way of learning did was make me overconfident in my abilities and lazy about working for something that I wanted. I had to learn the hard way that if I want something that I have to work for it.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      Interesting point of view. Yeah, I have to say that it’s definitely given me a good work ethic!

      Jas xx

  5. August 19, 2018 / 10:34 am

    I totally get where you are coming from!
    As a teacher I think everyone just assumes I was a straight A student, but that’s far from it. I may have okay grades, from all my education, but I know I am a brilliant teacher!
    And as for my kids, I know my son is smart, but not in the academic way. I will always push him to do his best, but not label him in any way. My daughter is a little more academic, but I know she has her struggles too, and with hard work, she’s got where she is at so far.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:46 pm

      Sounds like you go about it the perfect way Ritu!

      Jas xx

      • August 23, 2018 / 9:07 pm

        I hope so! Not perfect necessarily but just right!

  6. August 19, 2018 / 7:49 pm

    I was the same! Grew up being told how smart I was and then I completely fucked my A Levels because I thought I could get by on my natural ‘smart-ness’ – that taught me pretty quickly that I needed to put a lot of effort in! x

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 10:24 pm

      Yeah, labels can be really hard!

      Jas xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      Honestly, they can be so damaging!

      Jas xx

  7. August 19, 2018 / 8:08 pm

    I could definitely relate to this! When it comes to school work, it definitely takes a while for me to get a good understanding of something. However, like you, I’ve got a really good set of study habits because of this. I have friends who are a lot faster at absorbing information however we still get the same grades. I just have to put a little more time into making sure I understand something.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 8:59 pm

      Glad you could relate! I guess it’s all about doing whatever you need to do!

      Jas xx

  8. August 19, 2018 / 8:11 pm

    This is a great post that definitely makes me feel better! A grade on a paper shouldn’t define you. What matters is a life long desire for learning and growing! Thank you for sharing!
    Shannon

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 9:05 pm

      Awww thank you, I’m so glad that it made you feel better!

      Jas xx

  9. August 19, 2018 / 8:22 pm

    This was a really interesting read which I can relate to in someways, except I was never really the smart kid, I knew what I had to and that was good enough for me and I did get really good gcse results and people thought I wouldn’t do that which was nice but then your expected of more which can cause pressure! Really great post xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 9:49 pm

      Awww, I’m so glad that you ended up doing really well! Congrats!

      Jas xx

  10. Chloe Francis
    August 19, 2018 / 8:26 pm

    Love this post so much! I did get good grades but I’ve had to work SO hard to get there! It didn’t come naturally at all haha xx

    https://www.chloexlizabeth.com 💗

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 9:50 pm

      Awww sounds like we had the same kind of experience! So glad you liked this post!

      Jas xx

  11. lilo8102
    August 19, 2018 / 8:29 pm

    Hi Jasmine! 😘
    This is so interesting to me.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 9:56 pm

      Awww I’m so glad they found it good!

  12. August 19, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    Love how open and honest your blogs are Jas, glad that you are strong and realise you don’t have to conform to a label that people place on you! Good job on your work ethic though!

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 9:57 pm

      Awwww thank you so much! I try really hard to keep them open and honest, so it means a lot to me to hear that they come across that way!

      Jas xx

  13. August 19, 2018 / 9:02 pm

    It can be really hard at times to block out what people say to you–especially those who are close to you. As long as you are true to yourself that is all that matters. There is no one to impress except yourself! Well done on being you and accepting yourself for the person you know you are!

    Trace x | http://www.thefashioncollector.com

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 10:00 pm

      Thank you so much! Those are some very true words 😉

      Jas xx

  14. August 19, 2018 / 9:03 pm

    I remember my 6th grade teacher telling us, “grades doesn’t define you” and that stuck with me throughout all of school because he was the only teacher that ever recognized the affects that grades have on kids. I would definitely consider myself smart but not academically. My uni experience wasn’t a 4.0 GPA but it was a decent B to B+ average but I honestly hated it… I hated studying, writing about topics I had no interest in, and it didn’t come naturally to me. But what’s funny is that if I were to just discuss the exact same topic with friends, I do so well just explaining the history, story, facts, etc.

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 19, 2018 / 10:10 pm

      It’s so interesting how differently we all think, isn’t it?

      Jas xx

  15. letsgettripsy
    August 20, 2018 / 12:03 am

    Excellent and insightful post and described me quite perfectly as well! Your best is definitely good enough and never forget that! Continue with writing and creativity and it will take you places! xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:20 pm

      Thank you so much!

      Jas xx

  16. August 20, 2018 / 12:09 am

    This was so interesting! We’re kind of opposites here. I was always the smart kid too, and eventually it wore me down. The pressure of always being one of the best made me stop trying. I was very fortunate that it always came pretty easily to me, so even when I ‘gave up’, I didn’t do badly. But it gets so hard when there’s so much pressure! I can definitely relate to the expectations others have of you messing with your own idea of yourself x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:20 pm

      The pressure is so hard to deal with, and tbh I know a lot of “smark kids” that ended up self sabotaging!

      Jas xx

  17. August 20, 2018 / 12:31 am

    I can definitely relate to this. I try my best to get the best grades I can, but mostly I just like to learn about new things. If teachers teach in a weird way that doesn’t go with my style of learning, then I can have some trouble, but I’ll just end up figuring out on my own, you know??

    Nice post 🙂

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:21 pm

      Yeah, it’s nice that you’re able to figure it out on your own 🙂

      Jas xx

  18. August 20, 2018 / 11:59 am

    Wow! This post was so well written and rants are great to get your thoughts out! I definitely agree with the message and you should always just do your best and not beat yourself up over something! xx

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:21 pm

      Awwww thank you!

      Jas xx

      • August 31, 2018 / 10:40 am

        No problem! xx

  19. August 20, 2018 / 2:19 pm

    This reminded me of an an article I was reading the other day (and by ‘the other day’ I perhaps mean a year or so ago), which talked about what happens when we label a child as ‘Smart’.

    In the article, they mentioned how children who’s parents/teachers/peers/etc praised their ‘Smarts’, actually end up plateauing; these children never learnt hard work. They grew up believing what they were doing, the grades they were getting, were based purely on their natural intelligence. In some case’s that’s probably true and I can think of numerous anecdotal examples of people in my life who didn’t study a thing and got fairly good grades. What it diminishes though, is the idea that many people we looked to in School as ‘Smart’ were actually ‘Working Hard’. What the article proposed, therefore, is rather than praise a kid for being ‘Smart’, which almost has a limit in some respects as we feel a natural restriction, we should praise them for their attitude to work, the commitment they show, and the hard work they put in.

    I believe that anyone can be anything, but it takes different people a different amount of effort, and certain people have certain natural talents. Anyone can learn to draw, but some just have the instinctive ability to translate what their eye sees into a brush stroke. Anyone can be a writer, but some people wont need a proofreader, whilst another might need a few. I think the same goes for grades and studying. I think some people naturally whizz through school, without a care in the world, and still attain good grades. But, due to that, they won’t learn the valuable skills that the ones who work harder learn and, the thing is, they are valuable; that dedication, that commitment, that ability to lend yourself to something that doesn’t just come easy, will serve you far better than any natural ‘smarts’ that someone lazy and without work ethic has.

    Sorry for the long ramble… haha. Almost wrote a blog post of my own in response!

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:24 pm

      Haha don’t apologise, I love long comments, this was so interesting!

      Jas xx

  20. Nina
    August 20, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    This was so interesting to read. I agree, labels can have huge impact on people.
    Nina’s Style Blog

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:25 pm

      They really do!

      Jas xx

  21. August 21, 2018 / 8:37 am

    I definitely can relate to this! There are so many different ways that academic v smart and exists even once you leave formal education and start a career, people can do really well with systems and remembering facts and exams but struggle to think on their feet and adapt to workplace scenarios, so it’s true I think that grades don’t define you, but effort and resilience is valuable. Great post Jas!

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:26 pm

      Thank you so much!

      Jas xx

  22. abbiejadewanders
    August 21, 2018 / 8:19 pm

    Such an important post and I agree grades don’t define you. Although I was considered ‘smart’ with high ‘expected’ grades, I had a pretty horrible experience with my A Level teacher telling me I would have to take out a mortgage to pay for retakes before I studied French/Spanish at uni. I now have a BA in French and Spanish and an MA in Translation Studies. Just keep going and whatever you do – do it for you and no one else x

    abbiejadewanders.co.uk

    • thoughtsfromjasmine
      Author
      August 23, 2018 / 7:33 pm

      Your languages teacher sounds horrible! I’m so glad that you proved her wrong, good on you!

      Jas xx

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