I’m just a thirty.one.

From a young age, we are told to be successful. Be a doctor. Be a lawyer. Sit at a desk. Do what you’re told. Be good.

We’re told what’s right and what is wrong. How to speak, sit, eat properly. School tells us, that to succeed we must comply, so we comply. We sit, learn, listen –  even if we don’t understand.

We’re told to take tests and pass them. They will determine our intelligence, our capabilities, and by extension, our worth. Only if we pass can we move on to something else; something more; something better.

Tests, filled with questions to fool and tease, questions where an artist has to become a mathematician and a mathematician a historian.

We realize only too late. Once we’ve already spent years trying to pass. That they don’t determine our worth: our life: how good we are.

Our lives cannot be put down in scores.

Our intelligence not measured by percentages.

I didn’t do well in my tests. Even if my teachers said I would: they told me I could be whatever I wanted to be because I was good. I did well. I complied. I studied.

I did what I was told.

But, they hadn’t expected 31 (you could have gotten 36, 38, they say – if only you had tried harder. did more.). What could I do now since my life, my worth, has been put down into two numbers: 31.

 

(Thirty-one was the price tag I had to sell myself with).

I couldn’t be a doctor.

A lawyer.

I couldn’t go to ‘my’ university.

I couldn’t tell my teachers I would succeed.

I was lost.

 

Numbers telling me that I should have studied more. Harder. 31 telling me that I wasn’t good enough.

(My mom kissed my cheek, pulled me into a hug: and said, it’ll be okay, you’ll figure it out. She wiped away my tears with her thumb, looked at me and saw much more than a score. Much more than what a test thought I was. Much more than 31.)

Why not do what I like? Enjoy? Why not be my own passion. My own guide.

They still laugh at me when I say what I do. (Anthropology, oh you poor fool). Their eyes widen with sympathy and they shake their heads in pity as they tell me I can never be accomplished: never be what they wanted. Never as good as a 36. 38. 42.

They, is society: a collaborate union of those who have passed. That even as I am studying: trying to become something. The snicker of those, who according to my teachers did better, scored higher, scored thirty eight, drowned out what I wanted.

I shiver as I think I’ve made a mistake because I’ll never be accomplished, succeed, I’ll never be what society tells me it needs.

But here I am. This is me.

And I will succeed (according to my own standards) –

 

but i am only 31 out of 45.

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