I've Made The Mistakes So You Don't Have To

Dear Top Ender,

Top Ender looking all Grown Up

I'm sure by now you've worked that out, that I'm a liar and a fraud as you are kinda smart. I figure that I need to come clean now so that you can use my experience to save you future heartache. And I know that you're going to have heartache because you are walking down the same path that I was and I think the truth is the only way to get you to understand.

Okay. I've always told you that I was a good student right?

Well, for the most part that is true. I was a good student. I enjoyed going to School. I raised my hand to answer questions, I did my homework and got it in, for the most part, on time. I wasn't generally one of *those* students who answered back or who caused issues and I'm pretty sure that most of my teachers liked me. Sounds a lot like you right? Maybe, you'll believe me when I say I understand what you are going through. You and I are so similar in so many ways, it's like history is repeating itself.

The problem is, like you I was kinda smart. And yes, that is a problem.

I was kinda smart enough to not have to worry about trying hard. I was kinda smart enough to not have to put any extra effort in. I was kinda smart enough that I was able to do well without trying. Sound like anyone you know? It should, I've pretty much just described you.

Just like me, you don't need to have to worry about pushing yourself in order to get good grades. All your teachers have told you, and me, about how smart you are, that your vocabulary is prodigious (look it up if you don't know what it means young lady), that you're creative and thoughtful and generally amazing.

We're lucky that it comes naturally to us, but here's the kicker, because it comes naturally to us we have to push ourselves to work twice as hard. We need to push ourselves to do more, to do better, to learn more. We need to push ourselves to give more than is expected. We need to push ourselves to get better than good grades.

I know it doesn't seem fair, I thought the same thing when I was your age. What was the point in pushing myself, when I could quite easily get good grades without pushing myself? What was the point in studying for a test, when I could easily not bother and still pass the exam? What was the point in trying something that I wasn't naturally good at?

And here's where I want things to be different for you Top Ender. I didn't have someone say to me that by not pushing myself I'd be squandering my chances and if I did then I certainly didn't pay any attention.

I need you to pay attention Top Ender.

I need you to listen to me. I need you to understand. I'm not doing this to punish you, or because I'm trying to live vicariously through you. I'm doing this because I understand you, I was you. Top Ender, I love you and I only want what's best from you. Sure, I can advise you, I can berate you, I can sit you at your desk in your bedroom and force you to study but when everything is said and done Top Ender it's all up to you.

I've learnt this the hard way. I learnt this after squandering my first chance and my second. It was on my third (and possibly if I hadn't take it my final) chance that I realised it was up to me. I realised that I had to work harder than all the others, I had to decide what was or wasn't important. I'm not going to lie. It's hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone, it's hard to expect more from yourself. It's going to be hard for the next, ooh I don't know thirty or forty years. The rewards however are far greater than you can even start to imagine.

And so Top Ender, please learn from my mistakes. Don't waste your first chance.

I've made the mistakes so you don't have to.

Love Mummy xx