I’m not trying to be self-pitying right now, but unless you’ve been through it you really don’t understand what it feels like to be academically successful and praised for your intelligence your entire life and then suddenly start slipping, because you’re physically or mentally unwell, because a subject is finally beyond your comprehension, or because you’re just plain overwhelmed. Or maybe a combination of all four, who knows. There are so many (wonderful) narratives in human culture about subverting low expectations and proving everyone wrong. But when people expect the world of you and you prove them wrong, and you prove yourself wrong, it just makes everything you’ve worked for and everything you value about yourself seem pointless. It’s a form of pain that I’m sure can’t be too uncommon, but it isn’t talked about much, so when it does happen to you it feels like you are all alone and solely responsible for your failures. All in all, I wish people could praise students, children, for their accomplishments and abilities without sending them down a tightrope of constant self-imposed academic pressure and insecurity.