Limits: An Essay

Note: Unlike my last essay, this one actually pertains to a particular person in one of my classes. Said person doesn’t read my blog, however, so I feel safe posting it here. And no, it’s not a rant or a gossip piece.


As you sit beside me and our assignments are handed out with grades written on the top, I notice you look for the grade that adorns the top of mine. I know that you are comparing your ability with mine, and I wish you would stop. You do not understand who you are comparing yourself to when you view the high A’s on my papers and the lower grades on your own. You do not understand the way I am aided by my genetics, and I do not know how to communicate with you without sounding conceited.

The truth is just the truth, right? Or, at least, that’s what we all think it should be. But it’s really not that simple. The truth is sketched in shades of grey, and there are in-between tones of every shade. So, I can tell you that I was born into a family where my mother, before she destroyed herself through alcoholism, was invited into Mensa without taking the tests as well as offered full-ride scholarships to several universities. I can tell you that my father, despite his inability to connect emotionally with his children, is a brilliant mechanic capable of manipulating cars in ways shop mechanics never consider, and I can tell you that it was recommended he skip a grade in school. I can tell you that the same was recommended for me, that the principal of my elementary school wanted to skip me from fourth to sixth grade, but my parents refused.

If I tell you all of this, is it simply the truth to you? Or is it bragging? Is it me telling me that I’m smarter than you? I suppose it can be taken that way. But it hurts me to sit beside you and watch you compare your grades with mine when you don’t understand who you are comparing yourself to. When you compare your grades to mine, I struggle to figure out what to feel. Should I feel flattered or should I feel saddened? I cannot answer this question, and it bothers me.

I think about the way it could make you feel – always seeing yourself coming up second best, and I hate knowing that it could depress your already fragile self-esteem. But then I wonder if seeing me succeed where you struggle will spurn you onwards, kick you into a higher gear, and help you find the motivation you need. Am I in danger of crushing you, or am I pushing you to find the limits of what you can do?

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