This I Believe

Miriam - Battle Ground, Washington
Entered on June 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, setbacks
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I am beyond using grades to define who I am. For the past six years of school, I have imprisoned myself with the idea that I needed straight A’s to achieve success. And for a while, I did okay. I skimmed through middle school with all A’s, and that’s how I was defined, or rather, that’s how I wanted to be defined. Then in high school, it still went well until I got my first A- my junior year. People always look at me weird when I say this, but it was a terrible time and I cried. I didn’t just cry, I bawled, the floodgates of my normally contained emotions were let loose. I felt like I had no more worth, the only thing that expressed “who I was” was gone. No more dreams of being valedictorian, no more following in the footsteps of my older sister. I now had to start from scratch to build who I really was. Looking back, the reason I did define myself through academics was because I was so afraid of being known for my personality or who I was, it was just easier to hide behind that mask than worry about being accepted. After a few days from receiving the grade, I felt this release, a certain sense of freshness come about. I didn’t have that pressure to maintain my “face”. I became more outgoing, more independent and outspoken. I branched myself out to different groups of people, knowing that they’d like me for who I was, not my grade in Honors Pre-Calculus and Physics. My focus shifted from having to perform and prove to the world I could do it, to focusing on others. I became more involved in my school and in my community, and I saw that there truly was more to life than good grades. It’s so cliché I know, but the grades in school don’t reflect how smart you are, which is what I believed, they reflect how hard a person is willing to work. Tomorrow is my last day of high school and it is amazing to see how far I’ve come, how far my friends and family have come. I’ll never see some of these people again until maybe the class reunion, but I know this, I don’t want to be remembered for being that girl with the straight A’s, but by how I was able to reach out to other people in the school and community. To be a legacy that empowers people to turn from themselves outwards to the people around them. And this I believe… that grades are just letters on paper and are nowhere near as important as the people around us.