One Grade is Not Everything

For my entire life I have always been caught up in grades. It was never that I had to be better than my fellow classmates, but rather the fact I had an expectation for myself I had to meet. Since elementary school, I took pride in my ability to work hard and get good grades. In high school, once college came into the picture, the weight became even more drastic. My standard for myself went up and it was consuming my entire thought process. College was a goal and I was going to do everything I could in order ensure my place at the university of my choice. At a certain point I began to put work over my health, my friends, and my happiness. I began to get sick constantly from staying up till 4 am and waking up at 7am just to do homework to the standard I deemed fit. This was not good for me, but it was how I had always been so I know nothing else. This was all normal to me. 

Once high school ended, I hoped I would be able to take a step back and truly enjoy the college experience I had worked so hard to get to. I really wanted to do it differently. So, when freshman year began I was determined to change the way I viewed school. I wanted to enjoy what I was learning, to take in all the information, and as long as I was trying my best and learning the information that should be enough. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. Even though I wanted to change, it was hard to break myself of a thought process and pattern I had been accustomed to for the last twelve years.

By the time spring quarter came, I had been unsuccessful in my attempts to simply focus on enjoying the learning and the classes I was now choosing to take. I was drowning in the anxiety surrounding a number that, to me, determined my intelligence and worth in that subject. I was not allowing myself to take a break or have a failure.  Looking back, I can see how ridiculous this was because it was freshman year of college. This was an arena I had never experienced, a way of learning I was adjusting to. It was okay to make a mistake or have an adjustment period, as everyone does. I had taken steps to be more social, spend more time with the friends I had in my life, but my life was still lacking balance. That is when I had a conversation that changed the way I viewed my approach to school to this day.

I was sitting on Carnegie Green with three friends talking about how classes were going. Midterms were coming up and to no one’s surprise I was getting stressed over things in my class I had no control of. I wanted to drop a random intro class because I didn’t believe that I could the grade I wanted for the long term in the quarter. I began to go on a rant when one of my friends stopped me and told me exactly what I needed to hear. She told me that I was being crazy. She told me that one grade was not going to ruin my life or determine my worth. She told me I prove my capabilities in real life application and a grade wouldn’t change that. She made me see that a single grade was not going to tank my goals or wants for the future. I sat there and sank into a deep session of thought. That was when I realized how right she was. Here was a person I had only known for a few months telling me that I was more than just a grade I may receive. It didn’t take away from my intelligence, it didn’t take away from what I am capable of. She showed me a grade is simply a number that is determined from a couple assignments and exams that vary from person to person. It did not determine who I was as a person. 

Now, when going into midterms, I take this mindset with me. As long as I work hard and try to immerse myself in the information I should be happy. Yes, I still want to do well, that is not what this is about. I simply want to do well without sacrificing my happiness or the other aspects of my life, I don't want to lose my balance. I know everyone has or is having a moment like this. It is so easy to fall into a hole where you get consumed by your work in the grass attached to them. After all, we are still in school and that is where a lot of focus is put. But, it is important to remember that if a midterm doesn’t go as well or if you are exhausting yourself in attempts to learn one more fact/chart it may be best to take a step back. I have to remember at a certain point I know what I know and sacrificing my health, both mental and physical, may not be worth it. Go out and work hard and try as hard as you can, but remember that if it may not go exactly how you wished it would it be it is not the end of the world. One grade is not everything.