I should probably make a post about this, so here it goes:
A few days ago I graduated as the top academic student at my school. It was amazing, actually. More than I had ever hoped for. Definitely more than I could’ve imagined five years ago when I started at the school. I spoke bad English and was not at all ‘smart’ in the traditional sense of the word. But it was like a switch flipped at a certain point, and I started working really hard and getting ahead. I went from close to the bottom to the top of my class and actually was the top of class for four consecutive years. And I was still not 'smart’ in the sense of naturally gifted. Everyone around me became quick to assume that I was naturally gifted at science, maths, english, despite the fact that previously I had been completely hopeless at all of those subjects. Nothing came naturally to me. It came through long hours and dedication and hard work. I was studying all holidays, all weekends, all day at school. I struggled a lot. I learned. I grew and flourished. I met some incredible people along the way. I started being grateful for opportunities. I wrote my uni applications and scholarship applications, and hostel applications and all while buried in work. And two Saturdays ago I walked up to the stage and heard my name being called, and was handed scholarship offers and trophies and certificates, all while holding back tears. Throughout those five years I had to push through every obstacle: mental health problems, family problems, failed relationships. I lost and regained faith in myself a million times. I cried on the shoulders of the people I loved. And that fateful Saturday I realised that everything I had done, all the things I had sacrificed, were all completely worth it. It was more than I had ever imagined for myself. I exceeded my own expectations. So no, I am not naturally gifted, but I pushed myself to be better, smarter, stronger, and I am glad that I never gave up.