It stuck with me, and I didn't know why. It wasn't a surprise that he chose me for the job; classmates have always known me as the intelligent, hardworking, and professional kid in class. But scrawling my thoughts in my journal earlier today made me realize why I was so wrapped up in that moment.
I've heard a certain compliment and its variants for years. "You're so smart." "Of course you got an A." "I wish I had your brain." I'm grateful for the people who recognize how seriously I treat school. But then my teacher called me creative, and it was like a fresh of breath air.
I value hard work. In my mind, there's no task more difficult than being creative. It's one thing to be able to study and memorize things. But it's an entirely different thing to be unique, and actually do it well. "It's one thing to muster the courage to put yourself out there, fully aware that you'll be different, and that it'll either be good-different, or horribly, horribly bad-different," I wrote.
A teacher—someone who I believe is smart, someone who has met hundreds, possibly thousands of kids—went out of his way to tell the "smart kid" that she is creative, and that matters a lot to me. My work actually does pay off. People actually do notice it.
And maybe, they really do like it.