being the smart kid sounds so easy. As and A*s? easy. getting homework done? easy. doing that 2000 word essay? easy. it’s all easy right? no. wrong. i’ll tell you why. i am one of those ‘smart’ kids. i am the kid that everyone rolls their eyes at when i say i’m stressed out for an exam. i am the kid everyone rolls their eyes at when the teacher asks me if i’ve done the homework. i am the kid everyone rolls their eyes at when i say i am finding something hard. from a young age, i was placed in this ‘smart’ category because i showed potential i didn’t even see in myself yet. little did i know that this invited a huge amount of pressure and expectations on my shoulders: to always be good, to always be clever and to always be right. i learnt in psychology the other day that children feel validated by the behaviour they are reinforced for. that’s why it’s so damaging to only praise a child when they are ‘smart’ or ‘clever’. it makes them feel like they only matter when they are clever, smart or right. that’s what happened to me. that’s why every time i didn’t understand something, or made a mistake, i felt worthless. it was irrational but i was a child and i couldn’t help it. i was conditioned to have that mindset. i still have that mindset and it’s difficult to deal with, especially when the expectations don’t stop. during a difficult period in my life, my education had become my only reason to live, and sometimes it still is. i can’t quite explain how difficult it is to grasp onto education with the stress of all the expectations on my shoulders, but in simpler words, it has: affected both my physical and mental health, given me several mental breakdowns, and most days it makes me forget to just live and enjoy my life. being smart isn’t as glamorous as it seems.