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Breanna Coon / Her Campus
Wellness > Mental Health

Attention Perfectionists: You Are Not Your Grades

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

Growing up, I loved school. Even more, I loved to read. I lived for the moments I could show off to adults all my new-found knowledge. Each time a report card was sent home with me, I’d proudly hand it over to my mother trying, but failing, to conceal my huge smile. Inside my report cards were A’s and A’s and A’s and A’s accompanied by thoughtful comments from my teachers. “Vail is a terrific student.” “She is a natural leader.” “Vail loves school and it shows.” 

Not only did this give me a big head, but it also made me a Perfectionist. 

My earliest memory of my Perfectionism, before I knew what that was, is learning how to write my name. I remember writing it over and over again. V-a-i-l. I’d write it dozens of times until I got it right—but, of course, there couldn’t be any evidence of my mistakes. Countless times even after I mastered my name I wore down the erasers on #2 pencils and occasionally even ripped them right in half from rubbing too hard. Each time I “failed” I’d slap my wrist. I had to teach myself. Write. Erase. Slap. Repeat.

As I got older, in middle school, my Perfectionism was no longer a trait of mine but a mindset. I started to identify as a Perfectionist, claiming it like some kind of virtue. But a virtue it is not. 

My moods started to correspond with my academic performance and soon enough, I was doing terribly in school, distracted by outside problems like my family life. 

Perfectionism’s real name is Terror. I was Terrified of being exposed as the “idiot” I felt I really was. 

It took many years for me to stop calling myself a Perfectionist. I’m not even really sure how it happened. Despite the fact that I don’t identify as a Perfectionist anymore doesn’t mean I still don’t have Terror tendencies. Online classes, a format of learning that I’m severely struggling with, have brought back all my Terror tendencies. I find myself wondering what the point is when my performance is clearly going to be less than stellar this semester. 

Every day I must remind myself that maybe I won’t have perfect grades this semester—what does that even mean anyway? But oftentimes, I find grades aren’t necessarily measurements of intellect and engagement, anyway. They’re measurements of obedience and clear-mindedness and if anyone has a clear mind right now please tell me, HOW? I know who I am can be documented on paper. Not the kind with standardized letters and numbers but the kind that bleeds with the ink of an honest, passionate hand. 

If you are a Perfectionist or suffer from Terror: You Are Not Your Grades. Try to do what you can right now, advocate for yourself, and most importantly be kind to yourself. Years from now you won’t even recall that minor blip on your transcript.

Wells Womxn