This week was another week of firsts for me: I took my first college mid-term exam and got my first college grade back. It was exciting and disappointing all at once. I tend to set very high expectations for myself, like many others do, which unfortunately also leads to self-criticism as a result. Not that self-criticism is all bad, but it certainly doesn’t always make things better either. When I didn’t get that ‘perfect’ grade, or write that ‘perfect’ essay, I felt like I was already letting myself down and it was only my first month of classes! Then, I looked over the entire situation and realized how ridiculous I was being. Although grades are important, why was I so concerned that they were absolutely everything that mattered? After a little over-the-phone pep talk from my mom (she reminded me “hey, that’s college!”) I realized she was absolutely right. There’s always going to be room for improvement, that’s what those imperfect grades are for and that’s what the next four years of college are for! So, while walking back from class today, my disappointment inspired me to update my blog about some of my very scattered (sorry!) thoughts on grades and expectations.
The Albert Einstein quote above is something I remember hearing a while back, that I just remembered as I am writing this. I love it. It’s the simplest little reminder that makes those stressful pre-exam or post-exam days a little better. When did education become more about our success, rather than simply preparing us for life? Not to say that some institutions don’t focus on the latter, but in general I really do think this has become a norm in our society. I’m not trying to be the one to change that, as it is something way beyond my sole ability, but rather provide myself and whoever else stumbles across this post with a little reminder for those “disappointing” or “stressful” days; one grade, assignment or essay is not going to change the rest of your life.
I don’t want to be anyone’s excuse not to work hard for those perfect grades either because, inevitably, grades will always be important to some extent and they are a part of life. But I’m hoping that next time I criticize myself or don’t get the grade I hope for (there will always be a next time, unfortunately!), I will transfer my negative energy to more positive things like finding ways for improvement or even turning it into a blog post!
Let me put it like this: Your success after high school or college will be dependent on every little thing you put towards those four years. Every club you join, every sport you play, every friendship you make, every trip you take, every event you’re involved in, every internship you get AND every grade you get, will matter in the end. I’m going to try my hardest not to forget that, and I hope you will too.