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Mental Health

How a Growth Mindset Changed My Academic Life

So, school is hard. We all know this. But from the start of middle school, my unhealthy relationship with grades began. No matter what I tried to convince myself, I would always associate my self-worth with my GPA. And the scary part is, so too did a lot of my close friends.

One terrifying consequence of the education system is the damaging toll it takes on mental health. But not just that, it produces toxicity concerning grades. An unhealthy relationship with grades isn’t just something you can get rid of. It carries on with you as you enter college, and much like it did for me, it can get worse. 

Woman sitting on bed with laptop and books
Photo by Windows from Unsplash

I entered college with one huge goal in mind: to maintain all A’s. This was my mindset throughout high school as well. But the one thing about this outlook is how it interferes with how fun learning can be. Instead of going through my class lectures and genuinely enjoying the content, I would fixate my energy in memorizing what could be on the test or quizzes. And when I didn’t get an A or struggled with an assignment, I would be devastated. I would say things to myself such as, “Well, I’m just not a science person,” or “I just need to try harder to get that A.” 

That was so damaging. Learning is one of the most amazing things about being human and having a human brain. But I was too blind to see that. 

If there is one piece of advice I would give to any other student who struggles with an unhealthy relationship with grades, it is to add the word “yet” to any negative statement you repeat to yourself. If you say to yourself that you aren’t a science person, then tell yourself you aren’t a science person yet. That one subtle change opens up the door for growth, which allows you to adopt a growth mindset. If you tell yourself that you aren’t good at English, tell yourself that you aren’t good at English just yet. Maybe you are struggling now, but if you put in the time and stick to it, you will be. One of my favorite Study/Lifestyle Youtubers, UnJaded Jade, helped teach me this invaluable information. Here is a link to her YouTube video on maintaining a growth mindset.

woman typing on laptop in cafe
Photo by Bonnie Kittle from Unsplash

So, the next time you click on your Canvas page and go to watch a lecture or read an assigned chapter of a textbook, remember that learning is so valuable and exciting. You are on this planet for a reason and there are so many things in the world that need discovering or awareness. Yes, at many times, school is incredibly frustrating, isolating, and stressful. But having a positive growth mindset where you put in the effort to see the beauty in learning and growing as a beautiful human being can make even the most stressful task seem a bit brighter. 

Catalina is currently a first-year English major at University of California, Davis. Her interests include watching Studio Ghibli movies, reading fantasy novels, listening to Broadway musicals, and cooking with her family. After graduation, Catalina would like to become a high school English teacher and share her love of storytelling with her future students. :)
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