It is nearly impossible for me to mispell the word “separate.” When I was in 4 grade, we had a school-wide spelling bee. I was a very competitive child, and took feats of skill and strength much too seriously. If there was someone who was the best, I had to be better.
I stood before the class and was one of the last five students in our class competition. Whoever won a class competition would move forward to the school competition to represent their grade.
Top three. I knew if I could just keep it together for a few more words, I would win. But the other students were just as capable as me. We actually went several rounds with no result and the other kids were looking bored. But I was cold-steel focused.
“Jenni, your word is ‘separate.’”
I threw my shoulders back and announced without hesitation, “Separate. S-e-p-e-r-a-t-e. Separate."
Ding! "That is not correct. Take your seat." I remember just standing there. "Jenni? I said that was wrong. Take your seat." I was speechless as I robotically returned to my chair. I heard a group of people giggling at me. I know now that they most likely weren't, but my 11 year old brain was furious. I hated everyone of my classmates and wanted to throw things at my teacher. How dare they say I was wrong! I studied harder than anyone! I was the smartest student! I was my teacher's favorite student, yet she betrayed me! I thought of revenge. I thought of sabotaging the competition. I thought of psyching out the other students to make them quit.
No. I only glared angrily down at my study guide for the competition where there was the infamous word drilled itself into my head as I held back tears.