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I’m pretty sure that everyone who is currently in school has experienced some form of academic burnout in their time. Whether it’s procrastinating on an assignment for that one class you don’t like, or just shutting your brain off for a few hours.

I think it’s fair to say that we all go through it.  

A lot of the time, this burnout causes a downward spiral: not putting enough effort into your work results in a bad grade, which makes you sad, which causes you to put less effort into your work because if you’ve got bad grades, why even try? 

Confidence and Motivation

This is something I struggle with a lot, combined with the fact that I’m an illustration major: if I don’t have confidence in my work, it shows. If I don’t sit down and put the time in, it shows. This semester I turned in possibly the worst piece I have created since I started at RIT, and it destroyed me. It was a simple assignment, but my heart wasn’t in it. My lack of time combined with a lack of motivation towards the art created something I didn’t like, something that didn’t have my essence. 

There has to be a way to fix this, right?

Well, maybe. Procrastinating is something that nearly everyone does, so it’s not like you can simply avoid it. One thing that has helped me, though is knowing that my worth is not determined by my grades.

Growth

Even since starting here at RIT in 2020, I’ve watched myself grow in ways I never imagined. I’ve already learned so much about art, and I’ve been able to apply the things I know to what I create. Even if I don’t meet my own standards, I know more than what I did before I sat down and started working, and when I get a grade back that I don’t like, I can tell myself that I tried my best.

Make mistakes

After all, isn’t life all about learning? Learning how to walk, learning what you like, learning who you are. Formal education really isn’t any different. This time, you’re learning about things that (I hope you are) passionate about, just with a schedule and deadlines. I’m not trying to downplay the struggles of these sort of deadlines, of course, because I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hate deadlines as everyone else does. But I try to combat this by reminding myself that one mediocre grade isn’t going to kill me, that I’m still worth something even if I don’t have the best grades.

I’m still worth it.

I always tell myself that, if you want to be successful in the future, you need to have some form of optimism. Whether it’s trying your best at every assignment or simply celebrating the fact you got up in this morning. Having even the smallest sliver of optimism is key to keep going and making the best of what you’ve got.


Despite living in 2021, on the back end of a pandemic, find ways to make yourself smile, and know that the grades you achieve do not define you as a person. You are worth so much more than that GPA!

Hannah Hodgdon is a second-year Illustration major at Rochester Institute of Technology. She enjoys art, baking, and writing. In her free time, Hannah can be found drawing or watching YouTube. Hannah is excited to write for the RIT HerCampus chapter!
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