Stupid- adjective: lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; Characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless. Failure- noun: lack of success, nonperformance of something required or expected; an insufficiency. Everyone has been called at least one of these, and felt that sideways glance or condescending stare from people that look over and see a low quiz grade or test score on your paper. Especially at our school, there is lots of pressure to be “the best”, and extreme competition to get the highest grade.
Many students obsess over their grades; incessantly discussing them with their friends as if nothing more important existed. There is obviously a great deal of stock put in grades by AMCHS students. It’s understandable; a high GPA or test score gets you into a good college, which in turn gets you a high paying job that helps you get ahead in life. That way you can make lots of money, buy cool stuff, and be well thought of. I’ve seen students receive what they consider a bad test score and distress about how they’ve failed, and how others might think they’re stupid.
But students shouldn’t measure their self-worth by grades; they should store confidence in themselves and value their life experience. Intelligence is a relative thing. People try to categorize it as a linear component when it’s actually a multi-dimensional feature, which is why grades should be regarded as an indicator of academic achievement, not a determining factor of an individual’s brightness or intellect. Exemplary, all A, book smart students are great; but, if you can’t generalize what you learn and apply it to other situations, then you haven’t contributed to your community or history in any way.
Life experience is just as valuable as high test scores. You can do as much good with a developed understanding and empathy for others as you can with a perfect test score. So, don’t distress if you find yourself not at the top of your class, because someone will always excel above you in one subject or another. Someone who is better at algebra may not be as good at geometry, or the history buff may falter with English grammar. If you try to compare yourself to others you may always find yourself not measuring up in one way or another.
That is why you should be content with yourself and your best efforts. So don’t shy away from your failures, embrace them, and learn from them. Fail as many times as necessary. Failing doesn’t make you a failure, and all A’s doesn’t make you a competent individual. Remember failure isn’t fatal. You shouldn’t be angst-ridden over getting “just” a 100 that you miss the whole point of the lesson. Be encouraged to venture out, and in the words of William Zinsser ,“(w)e need more mavericks than class presidents” in this world.
The world needs presidents, but they are equally as great as the dreamers and dissenters of the world. Both make history, except presidents generally happen to be far less interesting. Is that to say that there’s something wrong with good grades being a priority? Certainly not, but do not let the goal of perfect A’s, or fear of those who might call you stupid, abscond with your enjoyment of life as they dash ahead to the finish line, not realizing how short the race truly is.
Your time in high school and college is a unique one. You have the benefits of freedom, but not yet the burdens of complete independence and responsibilities. You’re not tied down by a full time job, utility bills, or mortgages. So take advantage of this time; don’t chain yourself to a specific formula for success. Take time to live in the moment, even if it means setting aside the goal of a perfect score on a standardized test. You’re not a standardized individual, so why devote so much time to trying to be one?
If you spend all your time trying to get ahead in life, you will end up looking back wishing you had paid more attention to the things that passed, not the fact that you passed. As the old saying goes, life isn’t about getting through the storm, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. But how can you learn if you’re afraid to get wet? Don’t step lightly to avoid messing up your coat by splashing a little mud. Get completely drenched and enjoy it.