The number in the grade book does not determine my success in life

A+picture+I+took+a+couple+days+after+our+drive-in+8th+grade+graduation.

A picture I took a couple days after our drive-in “8th grade graduation.”

Ever since I started middle school, my main focus has been centered around one thing: grades. I would drop everything just to maintain my grades, even if that means giving up my chance at a social life or even making friends. 

I would study day and night just to feel productive and remind myself that I am only valid if my grades were perfect. My weakest subject was always science, and whenever the time would come for me to test my knowledge, the happiness from my face would drop every time I got a notification from PowerSchool notifying me about my fluctuating grades. 

Whenever I would compare my grades with my friends and see that they got a higher score than me, I would wonder why and start to beat myself up over it. But that’s when I realized that the problem wasn’t me, it’s just that people have their strengths and weaknesses–even in academics. I personally have always had a strong connection to numbers. Because of this, I have become a maniac at math and am now taking a junior-level math class as a sophomore. 

Sometimes, school feels like walking on a tightrope—either you’re barely hanging on just to achieve that desired grade, or sometimes just focusing on trying to balance yourself so that you don’t fall out of the 90 range.”

Math in middle school came easily to me because they were concepts that I already had learned, so naturally, I assumed math in high school would become an easy A, but any class you take in high school becomes difficult, even the ones that required no effort before. 

For the first time in my life, math was hard. I struggled with concepts that used to come naturally to me when I was younger and was not able to get the grade that I was hoping for, but even though my dreams didn’t come true and some things are out of reach, sometimes the best thing you can do is to try your best, even if you don’t get the desired result. 

Looking back, I think I made a huge mistake. Sometimes, school feels like walking on a tightrope—either you’re barely hanging on just to achieve that desired grade, or sometimes just focusing on trying to balance yourself so that you don’t fall out of the 90 range. 

And although grades are important, especially when you move into high school, they aren’t as scary as colleges and universities make it out to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to try no matter what, but it’s not the end of the world if your GPA isn’t where you want it to be. Even if you don’t have the grade you wish you had in a certain class, the number in the grade book doesn’t determine how smart you are. 

If I had known what I know now 14 years earlier, I think I would have been better off knowing that trying my best was good enough, but instead of waiting a lifetime to figure out the answers myself, I decided to bring the answers to me. 

One day, I went to interview a teacher for a story that I was writing, and at the end of the interview was when I decided to ask him the big question, “Do grades define you?” Every bone in my body was petrified of asking, but nonetheless, it was a mystery that I was trying to figure out for so long, and now that I’ve gotten my answer, I am so glad that I asked. 

Mr. Riley said that sometimes when you work hard and you don’t get the predicted result, it’s not necessarily a problem with yourself and that sometimes it can be hard to understand, especially being a kid in high school, that sometimes the effort you put into school doesn’t always reflect how intelligent you are. 

I sometimes wish that I had this reminder to grow up, but I’m glad that I was brave enough to ask the most reliable source ever—a teacher. What he said will forever stick with me and is something that I’ll remember every time I take a quiz or a test.