My literary identity is rooted in privilege and anxiety. I would consider my literary sponsors and experience privileged, it would be ignorant to think otherwise. I was rarely discouraged from reading or trying to expand my knowledge. I was never without resources, only motivation. Though my literacy learning was privileged it wasn’t without discrimination.
Like many other schools mine had a gifted program. Children took a test in first grade that determined wether or not a child was “gifted” at either math, writing or both. I distinctly remember myself and others getting bullied because we couldn’t go on the Gifted field trips. I remember resenting the gifted kids for a while. The thing about that gifted program is that it followed you through high school. The program stayed with the kids all the way until they graduated high school. I remember finding out people were in the gifted program that I would have never guessed. I was angry that kids I felt smarter than in the context of high school were classified as better than me.
I remember resenting the kids in the gifted program based on my preconceived notions of what kind of people they were. That changed only slightly when I heard gifted kids complain about the program and the work. They felt it was a waste of time. That made me feel better thinking that both the “remedial” classes and the “gifted” classes were equally wasteful of the student potential. Though the word gifted had connotations of “better than” all throughout school. In hindsight it certainly lowered my expectations of what I believed I could do.
With that stunt in my belief it led to be under motivated, and it certainly made me doubt any work I made. It took lots of work to have faith in my writing. Writing essays for collage was agonizing. I couldn’t get over the fear that my writing was not good enough. It took a lot of editing and revisions to feel confident in my submissions.
The labels placed on me by my school, and branded into me by my peers hurt my confidence in my literacy development. Looking past those labels taught me to stretch and use my writing abilities in ways that I was told were unconventional. While the struggle with labels was difficult it taught me how to be a better writer. Without that I would not have had the motivation to prove anyone wrong. I continue to strive to improve my writing. Despite what I may be labeled as.