I always jot down blog ideas by putting them in my planner.  Most of the time I see my note and I know immediately the direction I want to take: I have a clear cut path.  Today is not one of those days.  Today I looked at my note and went “hmmm- what was I thinking when I jotted this idea down?” So, we’re going to see if I can turn straw into gold.  Or if not gold, at least something of worth.

My daughter just finished Junior year of high school.  She did well- this is not a complaint about her academic achievements.  She has an impressive three year GPA, she did well enough on her SAT that if it wasn’t that she needed to do the optional essay, she would not be taking it again. (In NYC, all students take the SAT courtesy of the city- the only catch is, it is given without the optional essay.  My daughter is applying to at least 5 schools that require the essay)

Here’s the thing when people see someone with high grades- they somehow assume that those that have high grades do not study.  They think these grades just happen.  And maybe, for some kids this is true.  But my kid is not always one of them.  My kid studies. And some classes are more of a struggle than others.

History is not one of those classes.  For some reason she has an almost eidetic memory for history- she has an uncanny grasp of dates and concepts.  When they played US History Jeopardy, her team won 7000-300 because if her teacher started a question “In 1887…” she would ring in and say “Dawes Act”- and then give the description.  She got a 99 on the Regents Exam (NY State test for high school) and thought about asking to see her answer sheet because she couldn’t figure out what she got wrong. But, to be clear, she still reads the books and does the homework.  It just settles in her brain the right way.

Physics.  Well physics was a bit of a challenge.  She spent more time studying physics this year than every other class combined. She was at every review session.  She signed up for a physics video website thing.  She bought about a thousand physics study guides.  She worked her tail off, and she was rewarded with a good grade.  But she worked hard.

Some people don’t seem to realize that success comes with hard work and sacrifice.  When my family was over on Father’s Day, my daughter excused herself to study physics, because she had the exam a few days after.  My FIL said “Why is she studying?  She’s smart. She doesn’t need to study.”

So here’s the thing: just because you are smart, or athletic or funny doesn’t mean that you are automatically get all A’s, or play in the major league or be a late night talk show host.  Just because you have raw talent doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at something.  To be good at anything you must consistently work towards that goal.  You must consistently put in time and effort.  Study, practice, whatever- you must work.  No one is entitled to grades or recording contracts or pro careers.  No one succeeds by putting in minimal effort.  No one is that lucky.

So here’s the thing: don’t spend your time buying lottery tickets in hopes of changing your life.  Figure out your passion and work towards a goal.  Take your straw and weave it into gold.



44 thoughts on “Straw into Gold

  1. I think that some people choose to believe that others have it easy “because…” It makes them feel better about their own lack of effort. That being said, I also know that everyone has different abilities and faces different challenges so not everyone has the same opportunities. Nice spinning!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I do like my lottery scratch off as a reward but unfortunately I do have to work! I still believe in luck though yet chance favors the prepared. You have it right as does she. I am enjoying my summer off but it is still peppered with work of a different kind. You really have to have a mountain of discipline to write!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think the reason people believe you can get good grades without studying these days is that, back in the 70’s and 80’s when a lot of people grew up, it was true! Things have really changed as a result of research-backed education methods, what is called “growth mindset,” which is the belief (proven true) that something like half of academic achievement rests in effort, and the modern parenting style where people take more interest in their teenagers. Why that last is on my mind: I’m writing a novel that focuses on parental negligence back in those dark 80’s days.

    With my own kids, effort ruled in terms of academic achievement, and just about the smartest of my kids is in the navy right now instead of college –he didn’t want to work. Last I heard, in the navy, they are teaching him that in this life you are going to work, there is no escape … chuckle. Thanks for your piece. Thought provoking as ever.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! I know what you mean…I worked a lot less than my daughter does (I also had worse grades…so there’s that…) looking forward to your novel!!!


      1. I just say, let people have fun and believe in it if they want to. Everyone spends their money differently… I would say that people should not spend so much money on coffee or botox or face creams or getting nails done every week or buying a new cell phone when old one still works, etc….. everyone does what makes them happy. Let people dream… Life is short to worry about those things. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My brothers play poker with their friends. Not sure if it is an addiction. I think they just have fun. Now that you say you were referring to an addiction, your story makes sense. I was thinking more about the people who enjoy playing the lottery just like people enjoy having a glass of wine, not an addiction, just a daily or weekly ritual.

        Sorry that someone you know has this gambling issue.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think that anything can be done to the point where it’s an addiction, and that many people have addictive behavior patterns. Enjoying something as a one off is fine. But thinking that just one more bet can change your life and make you rich is wrong….especially if someone has a car insurance payment due, and they’re at the track….there’s a difference between a fun hobby and destructive behavior…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am one of those high IQ people that doesn’t always have to study. I have to study for maths & sciences. History is a bit easier, I study because I want to understand where we’ve come from. Now, words? I’m good with them. I can write like nobody’s business. I’ve written papers (in Spanish, no less) that my professor said was publishable (which amused me greatly, since I didn’t believe a word of what I wrote).

    My point is that smart kids study. Smart has little to do with IQ; its about how you use what you have. Your kid is smart, and her grandparents need to be told to shut the hell up, because smart kids study (and they’re not the boss of her anyway so who do they think they are saying what she does or doesn’t need to do)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re right. Smart kids study. Smart kids ask questions and take notes and pay attention. And you can tell you’re smart because you give great thoughtful answers that show depth of thought. Why I’m friends with you….like hanging with people smarter than me!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was in school, something I noticed is that the smartest students also worked the hardest. Me – I didn’t think I was smart, so I didn’t work. I learned later in life that whilst not as smart as those other students, I’ve got a decent brain and that when I work, I do pretty well. Pity I was 50 when I had that insight …

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yep, talent alone doesn’t cut it, nor does intelligence. To really succeed, we need to also put in the effort. And if we’re perfectly honest, a little bit of luck counts too!


  7. Sure… Studying does count. I spent my years in school too lazy to actually study… And I came out second in the grade every single time.

    Then the one year I was bored… So I studied.. Just a little… And I topped the class…

    But my friend who always came out top of the class took it really bad. Not at me… But just.. She was a real over overacheiver, plus her parents always pushed her to do well…

    In the end… I decided that it isn’t worth it… Or mayb that was my laziness talking… And I was content have just a few marks less than the top of the class…

    Liked by 1 person

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