Why Can't I Brag About My Academic Accomplishments?

I already feel guilty for writing this article and, of course, therein lies the problem. I’m a senior, about to graduate from college, and I’ve had a nagging question in the back of my mind for the past few months: Why can’t I brag about my academic achievements? Maybe 'brag' is the wrong word, maybe it’s too loaded, but nonetheless, why can’t I be vocal about what I’ve accomplished?

I’ve always wondered about this but, with the end of my college career quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking about it now more than ever. I’ve always been tossed into the 'overachiever' category. Let’s take a minute to unpack that word itself; for some reason, those of us who strive to do our best and work our hardest as frequently as possible are labeled as such. The word 'overachiever' has become almost derogatory; as if it is a bad thing to want to succeed. Overachieving is often frowned upon and it’s usually assumed that if you have that label stamped to your head, you’re a stuck up know-it-all. I remember hearing my classmates make fun of a peer because they worked harder than everyone, or stayed up late studying, or put some extra effort into a presentation because they wanted it to look good. And if a word of high test scores leaves your mouth? Un. Believable.

When teachers hand your test back, they give it to you face down, out of respect for the fact that you might not want to share your score with your peers. But time and time again, the minute everyone gets their score, the rows erupt with banter about how badly everyone did, almost as if it is a competition to see who “failed” the hardest. Because it’s college, we’re all struggling and failing, right? It’s funny! Everyone wants to downplay their own accomplishments, afraid of the scorn or judgment that befalls the one person who says, “Oh, I actually did really well!” No one wants to be *that* person. How dare they, right?

I remember once, a girl in my class got her test back, and she’d gotten 100%. That is something to celebrate. It was a hard test, and she had worked her butt off studying, and, upon seeing her score, she was so excited that she screamed and did a little happy dance. The glares and dirty looks that were shot her way could’ve killed someone. For the rest of the class, everyone was grumbling about how stuck up and full of herself she was. How could she boast of her 100% and rub it in everyone’s faces? So unfair! So rude! So selfish! Honestly, the audacity!

Looking back, I wish I could’ve been as brave and as unapologetic as she was.

girl stressed at computer energepic.com

So, why is this a thing? Why is it okay to boast loudly of the tests we failed and crack jokes about them while, at the same time, it’s taboo to talk about our academic achievements. I think this needs to change. College is hard. It kicks your butt and it prepares you for the adult world. For those reasons, we should be celebrating our own accomplishments, as well as one another’s. I’m not saying it’s okay to boast unendingly and shame your peers for not doing as well on a given assignment, but we shouldn’t be afraid to celebrate our successes. To everyone who got an A on that killer test that you studied so hard for, or those of you who aced your term paper, congratulations! You should get excited and you should do a happy dance – you killed it! Don’t let other people’s insecurities minimize what you’ve attained.

Like I said, I feel guilty even writing this. It’s so ingrained in me, from years and years of jokingly saying, “I am going to fail this test!” or, “This paper is trash, I literally did it in 30 minutes, I’m going to get a C at best,” that it’s almost second nature. In reality, I love the feeling of studying hard for a test and seeing that manifest into a good grade. I get excited when a teacher gives me back a paper that I know I worked hard on and I know that the A at the top of it was completely warranted.

I’m a college senior and I’ve had straight A’s since middle school. I’ve gotten an A on every project, every test, every paper. I'm not a freaky genius or a teacher's pet, I simply did the work. I worked my butt off for years and it shows, not only on my transcript and in my GPA, but in my work ethic and in the skills that I’ll soon bring to an employer. It took me years of hiding my excitement at test results and project grades to realize that I deserve to commend myself on everything that I’ve done. So celebrate yourself, celebrate your peers, and support each other! I’ve watched my friends and classmates learn and grow over the years, and I’m so proud of them for everything they’ve done. I’ve watched myself learn the value and the reward of hard work, and I’m proud of myself for that. And to the girl who got 100% on that test, you rock! I’m proud of you and you should be too.

Nick Morrison via Unsplash