Grades Don't Define You
Updated: May 21
As much as I'd like to think otherwise, I haven't fully recovered from school. Teachers treating me as superior to other students because of my test scores led me to conflate my worth with my achievements. Even now, I have a tendency to think of myself as lazy and immature when I can't complete all the goals I've set for myself. I think writing about it may help me.
Grades are placed on a pedestal at conventional schools. Young people are expected to keep up with their class assignments and homework regardless of their individual situations.
You have depression? Too bad, do your homework.
Your brother is in the hospital? Too bad, do your homework.
You'll be at a big marching band competition all day? Too bad, do your homework.
Due to this, many young people let their grades define them. People with good grades feel pressured to keep their grades up at all costs, while people with bad grades feel like they're not enough. In my experience, this can lead to anxiety, self-hate, and suicidal thoughts. That isn't okay.
The rest of this article will be about my personal experiences with grades. I'll talk about self-harm, so stop reading now if that topic triggers you.
When I was in 8th grade, my depression was severe enough that I struggled to complete my homework. Unfortunately, for reasons stated at the beginning of this article, I felt tremendous pressure to start getting my homework done. I ended up self-harming because of this. At first, it was just superficial cuts with scissors, but it wasn't long before I broke off the casing of a razor blade so I could use it to cut deeper.
Through a mix of anxiety and self-harm, I managed to get an A in every class for the first quarter of 9th grade. But there was an assignment in my English class that I couldn't complete, and I hated myself because of that. I was in really dark place. I eventually stopped self-harming because of my then-boyfriend, but I still thought I was lazy for not being able to complete my homework.
I refuse to think of myself as lazy and immature anymore. I'm worth more than that, and you are too. Don't let the school system convince you otherwise. Thanks for reading.