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Don't Let Your Grades Define You

Don't Let Your Grades Define You

Senior year of high school was full of so much stress I could practically taste it. It tasted like black coffee. Stress tainted the air and as the year progressed it seemed that the only way to fight back was with Venti after Venti. It got so bad that instead of hearing the sound of birds chirping in the morning, all I could hear was a chorus of yawns. The thing we talked about in class wasn't “what did you get on last night’s homework?” but “guess how much sleep I got?” The answer was always next to none.
 
This part of senior year was–for obvious reasons–left out of High School Musical 3. I guess the subject of pulling all-nighters and studying for tests doesn’t exactly make for great reviews. After all, there are no singalongs during real-life senior year. 
 
The source of all this stress? On the surface, it was mostly about meeting the admission requirements for the university of our (or our parents’) dreams. But I guess you could also chalk it up to a fear of failure. A fear that our first major decision may not hold up to whatever idea our parents, friends, or family have of us; or worse yet, what we thought of ourselves.  
 
Can you blame us, though? I know that I was continuously bombarded by conflicting tidbits of advice. On one end, there were my counselors and parents, who claimed that “grades don’t really matter.” On the other end, you had a few teachers and university representatives saying that grades were in fact the only thing that mattered when considering your admission.  
 
Flash-forward to now, with my freshman year of university behind me. I've gotten a grade or two that would make overachieving 12th grade me burst into tears. And you know what? It's fine. Because grades don’t really matter. Not at the expense of your health, your sanity, or your happiness. Burnout is real; fatigue is real, and you’re feelings are real. What is not real, however, is letting your self-worth or intelligence be dictated solely by your grades.
 
I’ve found that every time I’ve decided to choose myself—without beating myself up about it afterwards—the clearer my mind has been and the more I can focus on my coursework. 
 
Don't get me wrong: Grades do matter, just not as much as you think. Grades give you a great goal to work towards, especially in the case of university admission cut-offs. They offer a great way to gauge your improvement in each subject, but that’s about it. What grades don’t show, though, is the time you spend volunteering, learning to play the guitar, or simply learning to love yourself. They can’t gauge how much you grow as person.   
 
But if you truly are struggling, here are four things to remember.

Ask for help: The sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll understand the content, and the sooner you can move on to more exciting things.

Listen to your body: TLC is more than just a girl group or a television network.

Do the “thing”: You know, the thing that helps you forget about work and responsibilities. Go for a run, hang with your friends, spend too much time on a couch watching Netflix. Your call.

Remember you will get through this: Enough said.

By Alexandra Lambropoulos, 19

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