She probably cheated,” he whispered under his breath, but I heard it loud and clear. The snickers of my classmates told me they heard it too. I was the lone student to receive an A on a middle school math test. My teacher directed me to help students with corrections. But because of three little words, I deemed myself incompetent.
I no longer looked forward to attending math class. The insensitive comment made me feel inept and that I didn’t belong. In fear of more ridicule, I no longer answered questions or interacted with my peers. I kept to myself, focusing only on my studies. But years passed and I continued to be a successful student, gaining confidence with every triumph.
My insecurities were unleashed when I sat by him during Advanced Placement Chemistry. I had grown into having an innate desire to do well, but now, I had something to prove. Until one day, I saw him blatantly look at someone else’s test. I allowed someone else, cheater or not, to dictate what I believed myself capable. I allowed an unwarranted, negative opinion influence what I thought of myself. I’ve learned that how I perceive myself is the only thing that controls my future. I must look to the image of what I believe I can be to shape who I will become. My world is defined on my terms. The only person who determines my beauty, my image, and my success is me, and only me.