The most stressful time of the school year is just around the corner. As the semester comes to a near close, the assignments get longer, and teachers implement an endless number of tests and quizzes. Tension and stress lay thick in the air and our GPAs are the only thing that consume our thoughts. It is easy around this time for our focus to be on just that- our grades, when in all reality there are far more important things to life than the number that comes on a single sheet of paper at the end of an 80-90 day trudge each year.
As students I don’t think this message is said enough and we need to be reminded of it at times, but your grades do not define who you are. This is something that we all subconsciously know, but why do we never reinforce it within ourselves? Why do we let grades mentally consume our thoughts and performance in school on a day to day basis?
Learning was once fun and easy.
When I was a little kid I enjoyed coming to school every day, anticipating on what the next multiplication table I would learn in math class would be or what book I would read next. As we grow up though, that’s when things start to change. If you were deemed “smart enough” the school would put you an accelerated path, if not you were left in the dust feeling as if you weren’t exceeding the academic standards set out.
The pressure begins to intensify.
During high school parents start pushing their teens to figure themselves out because “Getting good grades will help you get into a good college.” and “You’ll be successful in life if you have good grades.” Often more than not, we burn ourselves out easily while focused on our studies. We choose to stay up till 2 A.M. studying for a test the next day, rather than sleeping because this single test is just one out of many that will practically determine our future. Students obsess on how well they’re doing in their classes to get into a good college when nowadays admissions boards are looking far beyond the scale. They want to see that you’ve pushed yourself in your academic career, meaning it’s okay if you have taken a difficult class and received a lower grade.
We let our grades carve out way into a false sense of success and that there is only one way to obtain it. And to achieve those goals we compromise other things that are essential such as creativity, individualism and personality to conform to the expectations of our parents and teachers. This is when our mere existence starts to become for others and not for ourselves.
After all of this I’m not saying the education and grades aren’t important. They are, it’s just that they’re not everything.
Learning is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself and helps us thrive and grow within our lifetime. But the expectations society sets up around grades have become mentally and physically detrimental to students. Our idea of self- worth is warped and we dehumanize ourselves on a 0 – 5.0 scale. The hard truth is that everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses. Everybody has different ways of learning and retaining knowledge. You will always have some subjects you’ll perform better than others and failing is inevitable – we all learn from the struggles and failures we go through- but the D you got on your report card doesn’t mean you are any less of a person than the next. Take a step back. Take your head out of your text book and look at the grand scheme of life. You are more than just a number or letter on a page.