No blog can possibly be complete without a rant, so here is mine.
Because I was the oldest child, and because I was the first child to experience growing up in a different country, I have always held a rather twisted view of what the “high school experience” was meant to be.
Mostly, I learned from the extremely credible sources of high school movies.
I had always thought that by the time I had reached the supposed milestone that is one’s sweet sixteen, I would have experienced all the cute crushes, and the fights with once-close friends, and the shopping, and the why-don’t-my-parents-understand-me phase, and the parties, and perhaps even meeting at least one teen vampire.
This demonstrates how little movies reflect reality, because I never ended up as the protagonist. Instead, I am one of those background characters that fill up the other desks in the classroom, because, despite the fact that there may be a smouldering romance playing out on screen between two attractive people, it’s not as if there is literally no one else in the room.
And just like all of the other background characters in the movie, I am much too self-absorbed to care about the palpable tension between the protagonist and the love interest; no, the rest of us are to busy caught up in the assignments and tests and projects and work and the stress.
I supposed I was fooled by the paradigm that is force-fed to middle school students to ease their minds; I was told high school was a time for experimentation, to find out what you love to do, to assert yourself as an individual, to find out who you really are.
Goodness! I can not thank them enough. It was highly beneficial to my personal development to be lied to in this way!
In all seriousness, high school has become (and I shall employ the use of an understatement here to show my masterful understanding of rhetorical terms) a big deal. It seems as if the post-secondary education has, in an effort to give the illusion of academic exclusivity, become more difficult to get into. As a result, what one achieves in high school – specifically in relation to grades – matters. More than sleep, and certainly more than passions.
The thing is, I am not sure I want to be in a man-eat-man contest to secure those coveted spots at top institutions; competition is almost certain to breed envy, and I have always thought that envy was detrimental to the pursuit of something as pure as education. Yes, titles and power and recognition are powerful incentives to our greedy little minds, but wouldn’t it be just a little unfortunate to have the entire world motivated by such people? Even if the world truly is so horrible that even inspiring people such as Einstein or Maya Angelou were only motivated by a desire for recognition, I want to believe that it takes more to garner my respect and the respect of others.
But this doesn’t stop me from stressing or doubting my own actions; I’ve been told so many times what I should be doing instead of being asked what I want to be doing that somehow my desires have become so intertwined with the external voices that they have formed the perfect, albeit ear-piercing, choir. I can hear no other song.
On the rare occasion when I decide to do something I love, such as drawing, people will doubt me because the arts and humanities just aren’t useful in the ways that the sciences are. Even when I have to go to great lengths to preserve my own interests, my passion is still doubted. No matter which way I turn, I am never studying enough, or doing enough, or being enough, because all those silly little things I care about, like books and art, will never do anything for me but drag me down.
Or they will get reduced to an afterthought on my university application.
Is that what I have been doing – wasting my time?
Few adults and even fewer teens consider mathematics or the sciences to be equal with the arts or humanities. Even the most brilliant of writers have confessed in the past that they have felt less “smart” than their peers who have succeeded in subjects like math or physics. There is an ever-present hierarchy, and the important class take up more and more of everyone’s time.
Some days, when I meet other adults in my life, they ask me if I am still in art or AP English, as if they are wondering when I will finally stop resisting – because people only ever know half and not both; they see the artist, or they see the scientist. There is never a union between the two, and it hurts to know that one side is valued more than the other when I have always wanted to cultivate both.
And if 11 years of math classes have taught me anything, it is that 2 halves equal a whole, despite whatever tricks people may play to convince you another half doesn’t exist.
Thus, whenever I can, I try to encourage success in the arts as well as all the other subjects at school, because I feel less stressed when I have a balance semester, even if that means more work.
And in the few times I do have an impact on someone else’s life, I want it to be by encouraging them to pursue their interests rather than doubt their own mind. I understand how painful it is to be torn apart in this way.
When I die, I will not be remembered for my grade ten math grade. The only thing worth remembering will be my impact, and all of those silly little things that I started to do in high school, things that became not-so-silly after years of discipline and practice, will be a part of my legacy.
And if you think of me as less for it, that is fine.
8 thoughts on “All Those Silly Little Things”
I am laughing out loud as I read your blog; your tone is so sarcastic and it was such a “Tarannum” thing to do. 🙂 My favourite line from your piece is, “And just like all of the other background characters in the movie, I am much too self-absorbed to care about the palpable tension between the protagonist and the love interest; no, the rest of us are to busy caught up in the assignments and tests and projects and work and the stress.”
Your quote was so relatable, as I much oblivious to other people’s dramas, too concerned about the next math test to care. I guess I could myself an “airhead” as others have called me because I won’t know anything that’s going on unless someone tells me about it.
In the same way that I sometimes struggle to understand sarcasm, I also struggle differentiating between what is the ideal or the truth. The second part of your piece was more polished and serious, and being a student whose only sole subject that they’re okay at is English, I find myself completely agreeing to your arguments. Being with a family that is more math and science oriented, I have silently wished that I was better at math than English. However, the words call to me more than the numbers ever will, and that is my truth.
I loved your last sentence-it brought your piece into a whole circle, starting with a sarcastic tone, then a more serious one, then sarcastic/sassy again. In terms of improvement, there really is nothing I can see. Well done Tarannum!!
My good friend Kelley,
Gosh, it makes me so happy to know that you think that this is a very “me” thing to write. These days I find more and more that I am losing myself in everything going on (actually, I’ve recently been asking myself if I was acting like “Tarannum” would, and the fact that the answer was ‘no’ inspired this blog).
Your comment really made my day! As you may have sensed from the blog, I’ve been having a bit of a rough time with the balancing act of life. I am glad you could relate to the struggle.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my work, and for appreciating my dry humour!
Also, I don’t think you should ever feel inferior becuase you prefer words to numbers; math is as much of a language as English is, and no language can be greater or lesser from an objective standpoint. Your subjective experience decides what you prefer, and that experience is just as valid as everyone else’s – don’t let people convince you otherwise.
Once again, thank you for the comment!
If there’s one thing I love in this world, it’s a solid piece dripping with sarcasm. And wow – you nailed it. Your masterful use of tone in this piece really drove home the point. And your point is both valid and hilarious. I totally agree with the idea that high school is not what it appears to be in the mindset of someone just in Middle School.
What really interested me about your piece was the fact that this was a perspective from the oldest child in a family, someone who has had no experience with this education system. I am the exact opposite. Between my brother and I, I am the younger child, and already had a good idea of what I was getting in to. I remember him staying up late at night to do copious amounts of homework, with full nights going by before he was able to sleep for more than four hours. I remember seeing him struggle, and it terrified me. However, I was completely blind to the social aspect of high school. He never prioritized people over schoolwork. It’s interesting that all my ideas about how my life in high school would work (when I was in grade eight) were based off of these two sources. Academically from my family, and socially from the things I heard or saw. The younger child often has an easier time adjusting to change, because they know that they can rely on their older sibling for guidance. You did not get this luxury. Neither did my mom or dad. In fact, I am the only one in my direct family that had at all a clue as to what they were getting in to. I’m sorry for your hardships, and I’m certain my parents are too.
My only suggestion for improvement regards your beginning. To begin a post with “No blog can possibly be complete without a rant” automatically devalues your points. The word ‘rant’ implies words for the sake of words, thrown down on the page irrationally. To be told that will often turn a reader off to enjoying your piece, as it starts off on a note of brashness. And, knowing full well that you have taken careful time to make this post excellent, I’m sure you do not want your readers assuming this about you or your writing.
Thank you for providing me with some well-needed laughter, and know that while I cannot personally relate to you, I’m certain that the rest of my family can!
Thank you so very much for the comment! I will admit, I was expecting my piece to be a lot more ‘rant like’ than I think it actually reads as, but I kept the little blurb there because this really was about my frustration. In hindsight I see your point, and I will keep it in mind when I get the chance to go back and edit this piece.
Thanks once again for reading this and taking the time to comment!
SOMEONE FINALLY SAID IT!!!!!!! You have no idea how much I needed to hear this from someone else, Tarannum. See, I’m someone who is incredibly artistic and creative and I want to go into the arts professional. You don’t know how many weird looks I get when I tell people that. The truth is I have never been super sciency or mathy and that’s just the way I am and I feel like people see me as less because of this. Whenever I tell someone I want t to be a writer/director they always ask, ” But what about your real job?’ or “How are you going to live?” Like omg. Thank you so much for writing this, Tarannum. because not only did you sum up my thoughts, you articulated them perfectly.
I absolutely love this voice and style on you, Tarannum. I think it suits you so well and I think it could even be up on the newsletter. Everyone needs to read a sarcastic yet truthful piece now and then, haha.
For to work ons, I’d agree with Areeb and instead of calling your blog a rant, I’d call it more of a speech. It genuinely gave me motivation to pursue my dreams no matter what anyone says.
Never stop writing, Tarannum, seriously.
I am so happy to hear that you agree with the message! I, too, have faced the frustrations you talk about in your comment (where people will completely ignore the arts in favour of the sciences, even though both have an important role in the world) and that is what led up to this blog. I had believed so strongly that I would get to the age of 16 and be encouraged to be who I am instead of being who I think the people around me want me to be. Sadly the world is not so picturesque.
If you want to be a writer/director, absolutely go for it! There is value in every career, regardless of whether people can see it or not. Knowing you, I am certain you will find success down the path of your choosing. Then you can tell the whole world what your ‘real job’ is.
Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog! I really appreciate your support and feedback!
This was definitely NOT what I had been expecting after I read the title; I was expecting the analytical approach that is usually present in your writing, with all the in-depth analyzing of details and the eloquent manner of doing so. Perhaps in my wildest thoughts, I was expecting poetry. In this post, above all else, I found honesty. That’s what captivated me the most in this piece: not just the fact that you’re a brilliant writer (I think that’s already been established multiple times over), but your ability to convey how you genuinely feel while having writing that makes me wish I signed out a writing guide from the library is what really caught my attention. After reading your beginning introduction where you introduced this piece as a sort of rant, I was anticipating a huge spill of words driven by passion; instead, I found a well structured, well articulated, and definitely well-argued piece. The writing is far too good to fit the niche of a stereotypical rant (as both Areeb and Liza have mentioned), yet I can definitely feel the passion that a rant entails in your words. I’m not sure what to call it, but for now, I shall dub it the “Tarannum Rant” (if that’s alright with you, that is): the rant where you can let all of your emotions spill while writing at the level of a literary genius. All jokes aside, I found complete enjoyment in your piece with all its humour, sarcasm, and wit.
At a far younger age, I held the belief that compared to the sciences, all other professional fields were inferior. This attitude of mine led me to disregard the successes of people in what I considered to be inferior fields, such as the arts and humanities. I learned my lesson when I tried to draw something for a school project. I can’t quite remember what I was trying to draw, but I do remember becoming extremely frustrated with my failure in drawing an accurate depiction. It was there I learned of the countless hours of practice spent trying to refine delicate strokes that are hidden beneath a beautiful artwork. Arts and humanities require dedication and commitment to the highest degree, even more than their scientific counterparts in my honest opinion. There are always shortcuts in the sciences, where you stand on the shoulders of giants as you build off the experimentation of others who have come before you. I have found that there is no such thing in the arts and humanities. You practice. And practice. Practice makes perfect. Reading your blog post, I feel as if I’ve revisited that time period.
Your writing, as always, astounded me. What I found to be truly clever is how you used italicization to emphasize your sarcastic tone. By italicizing the words that were filled with sarcasm, you draw the reader’s attention to those very words and convey your intention in using those words. Usually, sarcasm can be sometimes lost on a reader, yet with this technique, once the reader recognizes the pattern, your sarcasm will always be recognized. The sarcasm even added an edge to your ending, with the haunting image of the italicized “fine” burned into my brain. I felt like doing so left me with a remembrance of your proficiency in sarcasm, something which is truly beneficial for me since it gives me something to smile about. Furthermore, the variation of your sentences that occur as a result of your manipulation of sentence structure kept my interest piqued – the art of manipulating sentence structure is something that I’ve already secretly stolen from my reading of your past writing. The structure of your piece as a whole, nearly seamlessly moving from one articulation to another, really adds to the coherence and unity of your piece, making your piece easy to follow and understand.
Finding a to-work-on for you was exactly as difficult as I was expecting it to be. And believe me, I was expecting the chance of finding a simple to-work-on to be nigh impossible. While this piece had a strong flow to it, I feel as if it flowed too quickly at some points. For example, at the end of your ninth paragraph, you say “Even if the world truly is so horrible…I want to believe that it takes more to garner my respect and the respect of others”. Why do you want to believe that it takes more to garner respect? Is it due to your belief in the purity of education? This may be a clarity issue that I’m having, and adding more words to a paragraph may take away from the flow of your piece, but this is just a suggestion.
I’m glad that I was able to read something like this from someone of your character, Tarannum. You’re truly a hard-working person who works to excel at whatever she does, and from my perspective, you’re successful. It has honestly been a privilege learning from you since you’re always so humble about it all. Thank you for your brilliance, and I sincerely hope that you’ll continue shining so as to be a source of guidance for me.
Thank you so much for the comment! I can see why you may have expected something else with this piece; I was too, to be perfectly honest. I suppose that this year I am trying to be as ‘genuine’ to my own voice as I can (who knows? The ‘Tarannum rant’ may make a comeback) – I am glad that you see value in my attempt. I will definitely keep your grow on mind for next time!
Once again, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog! It is wonderful to hear kind words from a brilliant writer such as yourself!