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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USFSP chapter.

The refrigerator is my nemesis. Housing A+ report cards, ugly crayon drawings of stick figures barely anatomically correct, and letters from teachers, a billboard for all to see the accomplishments one has achieved. Almost as if a running advertisement, those report cards would return after the quarter, after the semester, after the year, building and building. Watching the GPA stand still at a 4.0 as if a waiting game, surveying the “S” as if a constant lull to superior validation, a paper with a scratched out, hastily written note of “great job!” blotched in ink under a 100% with little smiles in each of the “o’s.” Now I know the grades do not matter, the validation should not concern me, if one A+ were to lose a line and become an A- or God forbid become a B, who would care? And I know a letter is so silly to build yourself upon, but sometimes I feel as if I just cannot help it, the worst part being that the craving for the validation can almost become insatiable. After the grades come the clubs, piled on, constantly itching for a higher position, then comes the sports, climbing the ladder to see just how far I can push myself, but where does this end? I would like to think I am better than a dog chasing its tail but in reality, that is exactly what academic validation is.  

Senior year of high school it hit me, I had spent endless hours studying, holding positions in clubs like a monopoly, bearing life like a balancing act. In the process, I had missed out on activities with friends, time with my family. I missed out on moments with my sister before she left for college, all for, in the end, trivial, inconsequential, minute, and honestly, tiring pursuits that would look good on paper. I was burnt out. The final months were grueling, dragging myself to the finish line of high school. I swore I would not do that again in college, I would work hard and study, but I would not only work hard and study. Life is too short to stare at poorly drawn-out notes, a screen boding lectures and information back at you, or a teacher droning on about a topic that I honestly could not give a shit less about other than it was a challenge to learn and the shiny “A” at the end would look impressive.  

Now you probably looked at this article not expecting a Debbie-downer droop about high school burnout, but I promise it does have a purpose. Alright so let’s get into it. The age-old question: why? Why do people feel the need to be validated over something so trivial, how has our society put so much power into a letter of the alphabet? Why does a single letter push some people to the break? Is it college, parents, friends, teachers, something else? I am no researcher in this field so take my words with a grain of salt, but for me personally, the validation was deeply rooted in a fear of disappointing others. If I was always trying to be the best at least I wouldn’t be looked upon as the worst. What a depressing way to think, right? Now the next question: When does this start? Again, grain of salt, but my need for validation came from feeling the need to always be better as a child, I wanted to be on the refrigerator always, staring at a bar I had set for myself constantly. And finally: How can we stop the need to always feel academically validated? Now this one I am still working on, so that grain of salt is starting to look more like a salt shaker, but oh well, so here is my piggy bank of two cents: realize you are better than the grade, there is more to you than a resume and a manuscript to be printed, stamped, and sent off at the end of your career, you have more to contribute than a class or a club. Live for yourself and not for others. I am also aware that this is definitely going to come across as something sooo easy to do, and I also know it is not. It is a process, and a challenging one at that. Sometimes there is something that may kick-start or truly open your eyes to the situation, but losing your mind over the rat race of academia is not worth the hype, in fact, f*ck the refrigerator and f*ck the report cards.  

Mallarie is a student at the Saint Petersburg campus of USF. She is majoring in psychology and minoring in criminology. Mallarie is passionate about plants, music, art, and finding the best coffee shops in Saint Pete! When she's not sketching, studying, or reading, she can be found around campus hanging out out in her hammock.