It’s the feeling of being ripped into a thousand pieces that are ruthlessly smashed and burned.
You build it up. Your proud piece of work, the one you’ve worked on for ages, and you smile proudly as you present it. Your pride grows every time someone makes a comment of wonder, secretly praises you when they think you aren’t listening, the bubbly feeling that your hard work has finally paid off. The warmth of such a thing.
The eyes survey it- and you hold your breath because the moment you’ve been waiting for has come. The teacher will grade it. They give you a nod, before they open their mouth with their careful words and you smile weakly as they tear apart your piece with polite words and “constructive criticism”. You’re fine; you smile.
You pretend to be happy with your grade, the one that they hand to you with a nod. They declare to the class that the grade you have has been “earned” and not “given”. You look at some of the other work that had been started and finished the day before but still get a better grade then the one you’ve worked on for weeks. You shrink, but you don’t let it show. You smile, but you don’t feel like it.
You look at all the comments striking across the thing you’ve worked on for ages, the thing you were so proud of and so sure that it would get a good grade. So all the small things you’ve done, the easy, effortless things, get a better grade than something you’ve poured yourself into. That’s the moment you carefully break, you shatter, you let yourself close your eyes and breathe, steadying yourself.
And all you can do is smile and accept it. Let your friends comfort you for a moment before letting it go, stepping past the disappointment and other wreckage. Make sure you seem happy again- and you do. You settle back into the calm rhythm your friends offer you without knowing it.
And promise yourself to do better next time.
This time, you’re careful. You try to fix all the things you didn’t do last time, add on to those. You hope you’ll do better.
The worst part of it all is waiting for that grade to come back, the grade that could cut down all the work and effort shoved into the little project.
And so the waiting begins.