I Never Had To Try

I Never Had To Try

When I was at primary school we had weekly spelling tests.

I always did brilliantly at them. I didn’t even have to try. Because I read so much, I was just a natural at spelling, and so I’d give these lists a once-over and I’d know them all.

Other people sat there writing them out again and again. Other people learned them. I didn’t need to.

One day, when I was about nine or ten, we had a spelling test. I got two words wrong. A girl in my class called Catherine got one word wrong.

Now, I didn’t like her. I mean, we actually hung out sometimes – I didn’t dislike her, but we had our grudges. When I took up the violin in year three she was in my group lessons. She never used to practice. She had this irritating pretend laugh – somewhat Umbridge-esque. Eventually she quit the instrument and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Which meant when she beat me in this spelling test, I wasn’t happy. She wasn’t as clever as me, I complained to myself. She didn’t deserve it!

We both got one of the same words wrong. But the one she got right that I got wrong? Biscuit.

I couldn’t remember how to spell biscuit. Was it buiscuit? Buiscit? I just couldn’t do it. And because I had assumed that I knew the words on the list, I hadn’t looked twice at what I thought was one of the easiest.

I’d never had to try.

Catherine, I found out later, was over the moon to come top of the class there. She’d practiced those words again and again, and her dad had tested her, and they were thrilled.

I’d never had to try.

It’s something I was thinking about last night when contemplating results day for GCSEs (today). My sister said to me a week or two ago, “Because you’ve never had to try, when you find something hard you don’t like it and you give up.”

And it’s true. I tend to give up when things are hard for me. I don’t like sciences because I find them hard – yet I actually got better results in them than in History, one of my favourites.

Catherine deserved to beat me because I got lazy. And exams aren’t about competition with other people, but it’s a way of motivating myself. “Work and you’ll get a higher grade than …” says my brain.

Until I was about twelve or thirteen everything came quite naturally and I didn’t have to try. Then I realised that some things were hard, even for me. And you have to put the effort in. But in the end it’s not about who came top in the class for the spelling test – it’s about whether you couldn’t spell “biscuit” because you thought you didn’t need to look over the list.

Oh, and by the way? Catherine and I later became pretty good friends, and we still see each other sometimes. Turns out she’s just as weird as I am, and us freaks gotta stick together.

13 thoughts on “I Never Had To Try

  1. O_O This is me! I never had to try with spelling either until ‘orchestra’ came along and I had no clue…

    And I never really had to try all that hard until 12 or 13, either. But I’m glad that changed; it’s actually more interesting that way…

  2. It’s only fair to warn you now, Miriam: every single comment you get on this post will be along the lines of “OMG! This is so what I was like! You know, before I… well, I’m still like that!” Why? Because we’re all nerdy nerds along with you. We are all here because we always aced our spelling tests up until the point where we got clobbered by someone who actually tried to win. We are the new generation of literary nerds… and we don’t have to try.

    1. Ha ha, yeah, I know. But the point I was trying to make wasn’t about how nerdy a kid I was, it was about how you should try your best in exams and not get complacent and … all that motivational stuff. Or something.

  3. Except me Liam….

    As Miriam, knows, I”m still not the best at spelling, though my ability to typo is probably higher than my ability to misspell words now. After all knowing the problem I’ve been continually learning, using the Spell check as a tool to find out what the proper spelling is (seeing as dictionaries have sort of disappeared, and sometime I’m so off that I can’t even look Up the word in a dictionary).

    I didn’t have to work hard at anything except spelling until I hit college. I did put in the work though, unlike some of my class mates. At least at academic stuff… never put in the effort to really learn to play the violin so I could then play the ‘fiddle’. :}

    1. But the ability to typo is a fun ability :-) I have had some amusing ones in the past few weeks!
      Learning the violin or the fiddle is effort. Trust me, I’ve done one and bluffed the other.

  4. *points up*
    Story of my life. Imagine my shock when I got a D in my AS Level English exam. I’ve never got a D in my life. And I want to do a degree in English.
    My plans for an Oxbridge application went up in smoke, and I cried for a good twenty minutes before I’d let my mum into the room to (figuratively) talk me down off the ceiling.

    Sometimes life sucks like that. But it’s the knocks we learn from, eh? Take it as a personal challenge, and kill it with a stick later. That’s what I intend to do anyway :P

    1. Yeah, hope you sort that out. I haven’t had any super major disappointments like that (I really can’t complain about my grades), but sometimes you’re surprised by things and it’s sucky :(

      1. Very much so. They’re regrading and bringing hte paper back, so I can only hope for the best. Other than that, it’s retakes. Which I am not looking foward to, because it means I will have to spend my Christmas holidays doing extra work. Fun times.

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