It’s Okay to be Average:  Thoughts From a (Former) Honors Student

College is hard.  Like, really hard.  You probably read those first two sentences and thought to yourself, “Duh, that’s not news to anyone.”  But, if you’re anything like me, truly difficult classes might be something that you’ve never encountered before college.  From what I’ve seen, this is true for a lot of “honors” kids.


This semester has been a struggle for me since I’m taking really difficult classes for the first time in my life and have had to work to pass in subjects I’m not immediately good at.  It’s also made me realize that I’ve avoided pretty much anything I’m not naturally good at for my whole life. Turns out that that approach to academics translates horribly to college. There definitely have been many, many, nights where a bad grade on an exam or a take-home quiz has had me contemplate everything from dropping whatever class I just did badly in, to what I want to do with my life and if I’m even capable of finishing college and moving on to med or grad school. But, through lots of nights of crying and repeated failures on exams, homework and the like, I’ve come to a conclusion:  it’s okay to be average.


To a lot of people, that last sentence might not be as much of a revelation as it was to me.  But I’ve always considered being an honors student an integral part of my identity, and if I’m not an honors student then who am I?  The answer is, I’m a friend. I’m a daughter. I’m a dancer. I’m a researcher. I’m a writer. I’m not my grades. I’m not an organization I’m part of.  I’m not a number or a letter. I’m not perfect. If I’m no longer an honors student after this semester, it’s not the end of the world for me, and the same goes for you.


It may have taken me a whole semester, but I’ve actually come to be grateful for the classes that make me work and stress and push, just come out with a C in them.  They’re teaching me how to get through failure and make changes and adapt in the face of adversity.  And all these skills are things I should probably (definitely) know for when I get a job or hopefully go to med school.  


Before I finish up this article, I just wanted to say that none of this was written with the intent of sounding better than anybody who hasn’t been an honor student before.  These are just the mental struggles I – and many of my other friends – have been dealing with lately. So, this is my reminder to everybody that it’s ok to be average. None of us are perfect, and we all have our set of skills that we’re good at, and I’ve finally learned that that skill set doesn’t have to encompass everything.  So, embrace those things that you love to do and that you excel in, and accept the things where you don’t.