EmeryDo you consider the students with the highest grades to be the smartest in the class? Have you ever thought that they’d be so much more successful than you and everyone else with lower grades than them? Have you ever shown someone a poor grade that you got, and they made you feel unintelligent? A problem that nearly every student faces at some, or multiple, point(s) in their academic career is basing their self-worth and abilities upon the grades they receive. Here’s my story, and advice for dealing with this issue:

  • Don’t compare yourself to others- Throughout my childhood, my parents made sure that I worked hard in school to get As. When I didn’t receive As, which was inevitable, I felt like I was letting my parents down and that I just wasn’t smart enough to do better.  My grades began to define me. If I was slacking or behind, then I would convince myself that I just wasn’t as capable as those above or ahead of me. The desire to be an “A student” controlled my high school career. Everything was about high honors and A+s. And sadly, I thought that I was more intelligent and had more potential than the students in the lower level classes, some of whom were my friends. This kind of logic leads to people mistreating others, and my friendships suffered due to acting on this criteria.
  • Understand and appreciate what makes people unique- It took a lot of self-evaluating before I realized that how I viewed myself and others was unjust. I didn’t think of all the outside factors that affect students’ abilities to succeed.  Everyone faces different adversities and there’s no way to truly know about someone’s life unless they tell you. If someone gets higher grades than you in math but lower in social studies, recognize that there are reasons for individuals to comprehend certain subjects better than others. For example, the other student’s parents may believe that mathematics is more significant than history, and therefore the student focuses more on studying math and science based subjects. Grades aren’t simply a product of one’s ability. The environment, support system, as well as other influences, play a major role in a student’s academic success. If you are able to understand social issues on a deeper level than someone else, be thankful to those in your life who have influenced and taught you to analyze in detail.
  • Look at yourself and everyone more positively- Basing worth upon grades is dehumanizing. It strips away people’s personalities, life experiences and emotions. Just because someone dropped out of high school, or didn’t get into a prestigious university, it doesn’t make them any less intelligent or valuable than anyone else. Ever since realizing that this was how I saw myself and others, I’ve been able to see myself in a better light and help others think about themselves more positively as well. If all of your value comes from your grades, then you lose sight of what’s most important in school — learning. We go to school to learn, grow, and mature into independent individuals, not to compare or devalue ourselves.

You are what you make yourself. The actions you do and the decisions you make everyday are what define you—not the B- you got on that test or the C you got in that one class. You are the wonderful, adventurous dream you had last night, and the giver of love and smiles to more people than you remember. The memories you keep and how you deal with them are you. Your creativity and imagination are you. How you view the world and everything around you is what defines who you are.