September 2nd, 2010 by ben Leave a reply »

Dear Ms. Jeng,

Before I go on with introducing myself and summarizing my life, I’d like to inform you that I am not that good at English in my own honest opinion. English and writing is the art of communication, and that’s something I’ve been bad at for much of my life. I actually don’t remember for how long I’ve felt socially awkward, but the all-too-familiar feeling often kicks in when I’m treated with kindness and welcome, like my first day in class today. Maybe it dates back to elementary school, when all my childish peers told my childish self how smart I was. People thought I was good at English in elementary school. They also thought that in middle school. My reputation of being smart, of unknown origin, also continued into middle school, when my classmates childishly selected me as ASB President.

At this point in time, I feel like I was the worst, most irresponsible president First Avenue Middle School has ever seen. Maybe it’s here when I started feeling shy and awkward. Before, I had always been the first to raise my hand in all my classes, ruffling the feathers of my perceived intelligence by knowing the answer to every question. I was always there to correct my teacher when she taught something wrong, and I was always the one who got sixes on all his Six Traits of Writing.

At first, I had looked forward enormously to high school. It felt like freedom: you could pick where you wanted to buy your lunch instead of waiting in a singular lunch line! You could join clubs and teams, and afterschool there would be meetings and activities! Freedom from parents, from piano class, and from violin lessons! Unfortunately, as the weeks went by, the fanciful dream of my freshman year faded away. Every night, there was homework; assignments upon unfinished assignments. I got a B in my Freshman English Honors class, and didn’t do too hot in my other classes, either. I got into Math Team, but could never answer any questions right in competitions. I lost the ASB election.

I still don’t think I’ve completely gotten over my disappointment and depression over high school. It’s the start of adulthood, of work and responsibility, and never again can one return to childhood. I realized my own flaws relatively late in the game. I’m lazy. I procrastinate. I still do. I still am. Other flaws I have mostly corrected. I was prideful, and maybe you could even say I looked down on everyone else. I now try to be as humble as I can.

That having been the four-paragraph summary of my school life (my SAT grammar mind is flagging that fierily), you can see that I’ve been a very spoiled child and have only recently started maturing. My self-confidence has dropped considerably, and along with it, my actual performance in class. I now feel that I am very incompetent in English class. I used to love reading books, especially in middle school, when I would read a 400-page novel every night. (If you’re wondering why, it’s because we had a program called Accelerated Reader, where you get points for reading a new book and taking an AR test on it. You got more points for harder books. I was the Accelerated Reader champion in our school; I had like 20 times as many points as the next person.) In high school, the books we were forced to read were prosaic, and the exercises, worksheets, and essays further lowered my newfound distaste for literature.

After my reading prowess plummeted, my writing naturally took a hit. My Freshman Honors teacher was extremely strict and critical concerning the essays we turned in weekly. Coming from a middle school English teacher who accepted late assignments months after the due date for full credit, and gave As to 99% of his students, this was a blow. I seriously thought my writing, well, sucked. And as time went on, my writing really did suck. It’s funny how these things work.

Lately, I think I’ve improved my writing in some areas (and unimproved in others) by keeping a (rarely-updated) blog. I developed a unique, oddball style of writing posts, and I think it has influenced my writing deeply. I’ve only recently noticed that I started writing essays like blog posts, using casual constructions and informal language, but with natural flow and sentence fluency. I’m not sure if it’s really noticeable in my writing, but it’s something interesting about my style of prose.

As you can see, I am lazy and dislike doing work. I’ve heard that you’re a teacher who likes giving a lot of work, but I still think we can get along (in fact, we are getting along) extremely well. I dropped AP English because I couldn’t get along with the teacher. (If you want a detailed explanation of this, ask me sometime.) My parents still ambitiously hope for me to take the AP English exam, however, so I would appreciate it if you could provide pointers and help when I need it. I’m still not really sure how I’m going to handle this – in fact, I’m still not sure how I’m going to handle junior year in the first place, but I think it’ll all work out somehow. I hope this insecure, shy, and lazy bum will not cause you any trouble this year in period four. :D

With hope and sincerity,

Benjamin Li

Related Posts:


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.