I would like to share something personal with you today, something that has been on my mind for quite some time now. Ever since I came to Canada and skipped two years of Maths in Grade 9, I’ve heard “You are just smart” and “You are so talented in Maths” countless times. But I don’t like it. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the recognition, but I believe that these labels undermine the hard work and dedication that I have put into achieving my goals.
Can you imagine that back when I was in Middle School, I basically failed every single one of my Maths tests and the lowest mark I ever received was a 36%? I am not here to compare the different education systems, that is Mr. Harvey’s job, but the strict system in China did train me better in taking tests and drove me to spend much more time on practice tests – while you may have dedicated your time in all kinds of different areas: hockey, skating, rugby, track, snowboarding, skiing, basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, riding horses – you name it. And you all are insanely good at those sports! If you ever watch me playing sports, please don’t laugh at me and forgive my poor coordination.
Back to why I don’t appreciate being called smart: I am, and I believe any of you, are not just good at things because I’m “smart” or “talented.” I’m good at things because I have invested time and effort into them. It is not a matter of being born with innate abilities, but rather, a matter of working hard to develop them. Whether it’s playing an instrument, writing an essay, or acing a test, I don’t just wake up one day and magically have all the skills I need. I work hard to develop them.
Of course, I do recognize that the family we are born into might provide us with certain advantages, such as access to better education or resources. However, these advantages only go so far. They can give us a head start, but they do not guarantee success. It is up to us to put in the work to realize our potential.
So, I would like to encourage all of you to pursue your passions and interests, regardless of whether you believe you are “naturally” good at them or not. If you put in the time and effort, you will see progress and improvement. Don’t let labels like “smart” or “talented” limit your potential or discourage you from trying new things.
Especially as we approach the exam season, I just want to remind you all that the real difference between someone who excels and someone who struggles is how much effort they put in. How much time they spend practicing, studying, and working on their skills. How much they’re willing to push themselves out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to do better.
That’s why it’s so important to never give up, even if you’ve received a bad mark on a test or assignment. It’s not a reflection of your abilities, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t do better. With the right mindset and effort, you can improve.
So, if you’re struggling with a subject or skill, don’t let it discourage you. Don’t let it make you think that you’re just not cut out for it. Instead, focus on what you can do to improve. Work hard, practice, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
And remember, it’s not about being “talented.” It’s about putting in the effort to achieve your goals. So, let’s all strive to be the best versions of ourselves, not just for exam reviews, but in everything we do.