I was still in preschool and my daily homework was to write a full page of fieldwork. The teacher would assign a specific grade to the assignment, and I always got a 70 or 80. I didn’t think about what the teacher’s criteria was for grading a page of Chinese characters, and I didn’t know the difference between a 78 and an 84. I didn’t care how many points other kids got, and I didn’t even compare my own scores from day to day. My understanding of the “70-80” level was that it was very high, not a hundred, but a majority of a hundred. I always told my mom with glee: I got a high score again today!
My mother rarely responded positively to my complacency. Finally, one day, she threw a pot of cold water on me: “You only got 70-odd points, what are you happy about? Look at other kids ……”
I froze, thinking, “I don’t score as high as other kids, but I’m not low either.” — but the words never came out.
From that day on, my world changed. Before that day, I wanted to be happy with myself and just meet my own standards. After that day, I began to know that there is another standard in the world. This standard is formed naturally from countless comparisons between people, and is objective, neutral, justifiable and convincing. In the face of such a strong objective standard, “my own standard” is worthless and permanently invalid.
At first, it went well. As a top student in elementary school, I didn’t worry too much about this kind of standard-bearing competition. But my mom was still very upset with me because I was always spooky and couldn’t get 100 points. This dissatisfaction reached its peak in my sixth grade year: the competition for the junior high school was so fierce, with a full score of 300, you had to score 290 or more to be sure of getting into the provincial key. The fifth and sixth ranking in the class really makes parents sleepless. However, every time I take a math test, always 95, 96, 97, 98 …… even 99.5 have been tested twice.
But I just can’t get 100 points.
There is no point because “will not” and lost. A paper, dense, there is always some place I will carelessly lose points. I still remember a 99.5 paper where I was deducted 0.5 points because I forgot to write the word “solve” at the beginning of the problem. –This could have caused me to miss out on the provincial entrance exam.
My mom wanted me to get 100 points so badly, and I was perfectly capable of getting 100 points, and I got infinitely closer to 100 points every time, but I just never really got 100 points.
This seems like intentional.
That’s not true, I never missed a single question on purpose. But on the other hand, I really couldn’t lift my spirits and focus during the test. I finished the paper early and just slumped over and never checked it. Of course I “wanted” to get a 100, but I was just thinking about it. The essence of Lu XIV, who was so happy with himself no matter how many points he got in preschool, never seemed to change.
My mother has scolded me countless times for this. There was even a time when I scored 96 points on a test and my mom copied a long bamboo pole and beat me, breaking it in two sections. When my classmates saw it, they rushed to tell the teacher, “Lu XIV is going to be killed by his mother.” The teacher rushed downstairs to stop my mother. Now that I think about it, behind the scolding, my mother was a piece of helplessness: she had ways to make me do exercises, memorize texts, remember words, sleep late and get up early, and not watch TV. But she couldn’t take the test for me, couldn’t get me to lift my spirits to chase 100 points.
During a scolding, my mother asked me, “Do you have self-esteem or not?”
This question was really hard to answer. Of course I couldn’t say that I didn’t have self-esteem. But if I say I do, then her next question must be, “So where does your self-esteem come from?” -Yeah, if I really had self-esteem, why didn’t I try to get 100 points? The answer that I couldn’t say in preschool was even more difficult to say today: “I didn’t get a 100, but I didn’t get a low score.”
But I wasn’t thinking about how to give a witty answer. The question really stung me, and I asked myself: I was always so lazy during exams that I didn’t think about “self-esteem” at all. But when I was scolded, I was really ashamed. Finally, my answer was this.
“When you scold me, I have self-respect.”
This answer represented all the reflection I could muster at the time, as well as unreserved honesty. The answer was a big slap in the face, because it sounded so shameless, and the person who could give such an answer clearly had no self-respect to speak of.
In retrospect, when a person is reduced to the position of being asked “whether he has self-respect”, his self-respect has indeed been completely trampled. During that year, I repeatedly hit 100 points, but instead, I scored two 60s in a row, which was unprecedented. In these two papers, I was so disoriented that I did all the four operations wrong.
The sixth grade was finally over. During the year, I gained a pair of nearsighted eyes, a weight that met obesity standards, and a score of 291 that was good enough to get into the provincial key. — I only scored a 100 three times in the entire sixth grade, two of which were reserved for math and English on the P-12 exam.
It was a dramatic end to the elementary school years, but only a short-lived blessing for an entire life. Each stage, each situation, there are different “objective standards” hanging overhead, a moment to meet the standard do not worry, there is always a time when you can not meet the standard.
I have an elementary school classmate, excellent results, every test is 100 points, is my mother’s mouth “other children” of the regular guest. The first time she took a test, she scored only ninety points. After that, although she still has good grades, but I know that she can no longer meet the “that” standard.
I also have a high school friend, and I am very close. He was always in the top ten of his class. I had a fantasy: If I could have his grades, I would never be scolded by my parents again. Until the winter break of my sophomore year, I went to WU to play with him and he showed me his diary from his high school days. The diary was full of bitterness, telling how he was scolded by his parents for not being in the top three after getting sixth in the class. –At that moment, my heart went cold. I realized how ridiculous my previous thoughts were: his mom scolded him in exactly the same way as my mom. He was sixth in the class, I was 16th in the class, there was no difference.
“I don’t want to get 100 points, I don’t want to be in the top three, I don’t want to meet the standards, I don’t want to make you guys happy, I think I’m fine the way I am, I’m happy with myself.” — oh no, how can you say that? How can you think like that? How can you do that? Do you have any self-esteem left? For a long time, I have been consciously ashamed to admit to myself for thinking this way. The first time I listened to the song “Let Me Go” by the band Clothes Wet, I was shocked by the lyrics.
“But I don’t want to be any good”.
Isn’t that grossly politically incorrect? There are so many literary works about teenagers’ misery, and those miserable teenagers always say “I have my own pursuit”, “they don’t understand my ideal” …… In short, that teenager can disagree with what others impose on him. The ideal imposed on him by others, but must have an other ideal, – “coach I want to play basketball” or “I am to become the king of the pirates man” also. This “other ideal” can be deviant, but it must be as ambitious and as productive as the one he rejected. This is the only way his rebellion can seem justified and qualified for the court.
But the clothes wet actually said “I do not want to have success”, neither accepting other people’s ideals, nor having their own ideals. This kind of self-indulgence, even the rebellious teenagers in literature and art works, are also embarrassed to say it, right?
“I don’t want to be successful” – the lyrics of this song ring in my ears from time to time, always making me both ashamed and excited. When my mother asked me if I had “any self-esteem”, I was speechless. Now, whenever a similar question comes up in my life, I silently answer in my heart: “No.”
“Do you have self-esteem?” –No.
“Do you have motivation?” –No.
“Do you have a sense of responsibility?” –No.
“Are you responsible?” –No.
“Are you a man?” –No.
“Do you want to be a man or not?” –No.
These questions are humiliating, and once you are ashamed of them, you have lost. They are traps, and once you admit to them, they demand that you give a performance that matches. It’s like the episode of “Wannabe”: “Do you dare say yes when I call your name?” — and if you say yes, you get sucked into the mantle. But if you answer, “I dare not,” the chastiser’s intention is defeated by.
“Huh? You don’t play by the rules, do you?”
Son of a bitch, why should I play my cards according to your reasoning. That preschooler Lu XIV ate your poisoned apples and has been asleep for years, I want him to wake up. He held up a copy of the assignment which he didn’t know whether it was 70 or 80 points, giddy, jumping around, and his unproductive look never changed.