A few days ago I was (typically) simultaneously studying and agonizing. It seems the more I study, the stupider I feel. After three straight hours of studying theorems, I wanted to curl up with a fluffy novel and pretend the world revolved around love and not mathematics.
(As a side note, the world does revolve around math, actually. I discovered this in a rather peculiar moment of revelation, suddenly realizing that math is perfect. It never varies, never falters. It's the foundation of the universe, and without it, this whole broken world would slide apart. That certainly gave me a new appreciation for the horrid subject.)
But I wasn't driven by the desire to learn, or even to do well on my SAT (Which I will take at the end of this month, incidentally. I should have taken it earlier... but there was a rather unfortunate series of events involving a hurricane, and canceled tests, and whatnot.) My train of thought went more like this.
Being a known writer someday = being smart = being smarter than the average high schooler = proving that smartness to the rest of the world = proof via a written test = high SAT scores.
Now my thoughts don't always go like this, I assure you. More often than not, I just want to write because I love to write, and because the stories inside of me will strangle me if I do not let them out. I like telling stories because they provoke emotion, and because I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed with emotion because of a story. It's one of the best feelings in the world.
But sadly, often I rather slide downward into the evasive "good writer" worship. I would sacrifice anything to be said good writer, even my love of writing. (As contradictory as that sounds, it's quite possible.)
But it struck me, as I suddenly saw my train of thought from another perspective, how absolutely idiotic it was.
My SAT score is very important, no mistake. It can influence scholarships and job opportunities. It can prove to the government that I wasn't a shiftless homeschooler who only ate cookies and watched tv.
But on a completely different (and higher) level, it doesn't define me, as a person. Joy Elizabeth Clark. If I miss every single question on the test, (oh heaven forbid) it isn't as if my life is over. I will still love to write. I'll still want to be a writer.
In fact, I'll still be really good at remembering historical events and sight reading piano music.
My challenge to everyone this new year is to not let modern society define your intelligence, beauty, or talent. A pretzel-selling mall vendor can pursue excellence and influence lives just as easily as a respected politician. Study, and study hard, but don't study to impress the world.
Because in the end, they're only impressed by whom they feel like being impressed by. JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyers, and Christopher Paolini (forgive me for lumping them all together) aren't necessarily the greatest YA writers on earth, just the most noticed ones.
Some of the oddest people have influenced my life. Like that rather goofy college student from Kieve, Ukraine. Just by a few words, and an immense amount of unselfishness, he challenged the way I thought about everything. There have been writers (whom will probably never be published) on fictionpress.com who taught me about myself, even though they didn't know me.
And before this ramble goes down any more rabbit trails, I'd like to conclude that I intend to do very well on my SAT indeed. And if I do, somebody make sure and slap me - hard - just as soon as I get the scores, in order to keep my pathetic little head from swelling.