Katie McDowell

Student in Athens, Georgia

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Growing up, I would often feel inadequate. I was one of those kids who was pulled aside in elementary school to read and work with the support teacher. No one ever tells you the support teacher is there for you every morning because you are not up to standards, but even to a first grader it is obvious. All my friends were in higher level reading groups, and they got to go to an accelerated class every Thursday called Target. I know it was not intentional, but they would constantly brag about all the privileges involved with the class. I learned to accept myself and the fact that I was different from my peers. I did not feel the need to try to excel because I was only expected to live up to the minimum requirements to pass; I adapted to a life style of only meeting standards. I thought I was happy because a life of leisure seemed better than a life of rewards. When high school came around, my friends went to a magnet school, and I was left with all the mediocre kids to go to my districted school. It hurt to know my friends felt our districted public school I went to was not good enough for them. Being the dumb blonde of our friend group started to lose its appeal, and I wanted to be someone who people wanted to listen to. I worked hard in high school; I did not let the things that did not come to me naturally bring me down. Obviously, I did not end up at an Ivy League school, but neither did my friends who put themselves on a pedestal. I now feel confident saying I have exceeded the standards and I am no longer just trying to get by.