I am a self-proclaimed goody two-shoes. I never skip class, always have my readings done on time, and always write a completed draft of my term papers a week before they’re due. Hell, I’m even writing this article well in advance of its due date.
As the embodiment of a responsible and conscientious student, my behaviour has been teased constantly. I’ve endured eyerolls and the oh-so-original insult of “nerd” by my peers. I learned to keep quiet when they complained about how stressful their semester was, how they were so behind on their readings, and how they still hadn’t started their papers that were due the next day. When enrolment dates came around and they were frustrated about not getting into their classes, I kept my mouth shut and my early enrolment date a secret.
Silence has become my golden rule, as I could never relate to stories of pulling all-nighters while drinking Red Bull and coffee. After all, nobody wants to hear about time management skills or responsibility. The few people to whom I’ve divulged my GPA or scholarship details usually silence themselves immediately. They nod with wide eyes, then awkwardly proceed to change the subject.
All throughout elementary and high school, I never felt like having good grades was something to be proud of in my circle of friends. It was the strangest paradox, as good grades were the ideal that many strived to achieve, but those who had them seemed to be best-off keeping their accomplishments to themselves. Needless to say, I learned that the golden rule of keeping silent about my grades was key to keeping my friends.
I learned that the golden rule of keeping silent about my grades was key to keeping my friends.
But what many people don’t understand is that there is also an underlying reason I push myself to do well. My family immigrated to Canada six years ago with the intent of providing educational opportunities for my brother and me. After seeing my parents work long and hard to get us here, I’ve never taken their efforts for granted.
During times when I was tempted to skip class, the thought of the incredible time and money they spent for me to be able to go to a university like SFU killed the thought real quick. Going to class and doing my best in school is a small way for me to show how much I appreciate them.
My dad, who is one of the most driven and hardworking people I know, encouraged me to seize every opportunity I could when we moved here. One of his favourite phrases is, “If you finish 95 percent of a task and leave five percent incomplete, it hasn’t been done to its fullest.” Because of him, I began to step out of my shell by deciding to join clubs at SFU, and pursue a co-op term. Much of my determination and work ethic come from him, along with putting 100 percent of myself into everything that I do.
So yes, I’m a nerd, in all her organized and studious glory. I am a nerd who has moved countries, goes after new experiences, and works her ass off. A nerd who, after being silent for years in order to fit in, wants to be freely proud of her accomplishments for once.
Call me any name you want, but this is one label that I will proudly own.