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2024 – Maia Apezteguia – Viewmont HS

Mar 26, 2024

Learning Perseverance

I remember wondering how my sister did it – did her homework on time, got straight A’s, found the motivation to work towards anything. For me, it was hard to find the motivation to do anything. I remember in third grade, I maybe submitted one math assignment all year. Looking back, I think I was a little too hard on myself because I had a lot more going on than I ever gave myself credit for.

I was so jealous because it seemed to me that some people were born with good work ethic and other just were not, like me. I wanted to make a difference in the world one day, I wanted to be the kid their parents were so proud of because she did everything that was expected of her. But, more than impressing my parents or living up to my older siblings’ expectations, or even setting myself up for success for my future, I wanted to make myself proud. To be honest, I just wanted to look in the mirror with pride and say, “That’s me.”

Except no amount of wanting could make homework look appealing. There weren’t high expectations of me as a kid. I barely did my chores. My mom and dad would love me no matter what. In seventh grade I told myself I would change, that things would be different than elementary. No more missing assignments. Only A’s. I didn’t get a 4.0. I tried again in 8th. Again, I failed. And again in 9th. I know it sounds overdramatic. Maybe it was. But this meant everything to me. I wasn’t an athlete, I wasn’t good at art. I lost all my friends in Middle School, I couldn’t play piano or sing. Grades felt like the one thing that was in my control, that I could excel at, and I was blowing it. It felt like I was good at nothing. I at least wanted something to show for it.

Today, however, I am proud of myself. I wasn’t someone born or raised into good habits. I had to learn them all on my own. Which is hard for a kid to do, since no one was there to do the motivation for you or coach you into good habits. In 9th grade I lost my 4.0 because of a B in band. I won’t claim to be perfect, but it is cool how I picked myself up from it. For the first time in my whole life, sophomore year, I had all A’s. Junior year was even harder, but I worked harder, too. And harder. I got straight A’s, while taking AP classes and even ended up with a 34 on the ACT. It was incredible to me, because I was not always that person. I was not always the smart kid. I still don’t feel like the smart kid, despite how far I have come.

I always wondered why I couldn’t simply have the drive to put in the work like my older sister. But looking back, I think a big factor was mental health. I believe every teenager goes through some low point. It sucks, because High School is made out to be a pinnacle of your youth and everyone gets disappointed. So many movies are centered around grade school, books and adults always romanticize it, and absolutely everyone builds it up. When in reality, those years are literal hell. I lost all my friends going into Jr. High, my parents divorced years before that, and there is a constant pressure to be liked all the time.

Some days I would worry my mom was going to hurt herself because of her depression or one wrong word would turn more people against me. It’s ridiculous how much people care what others think. But no matter how many times we acknowledge the fact, we still do. Middle School was one of the worst points in my life, and my grades reflected that. Despite how well I did in Junior year, I was at a definite low then as well.

But, despite how I struggled to find motivation since I was little, and how I big of a toll my mental took on me, I can say I am satisfied with where I am now. It was not easy, and it still can be hard, but I am so excited to enter the next phase of life because the last year of High School hasn’t been all that bad. I have good friends, good grades, and a good relationship with my family. I never thought I would say this, but I will miss grade school just a little bit. It has taught me a lot and ultimately made me a better person because I learned how to persevere and finally let go of what others think.

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