Since middle school, my dad has always wanted me to get straight A’s. For one reason or another, there’s always been one class that prevents me from getting it. In 6th and 7th grade, I got a B one semester, but it did nothing to affect the year’s straight A’s. In high school, it was math. Every single year. I’m not a hard science kind of person and I accepted this in high school.
But my dad didn’t. He always asked me why I didn’t get straight A’s. Did I go to the teacher? Did I study enough? It must be your computer, he said, that’s why you’re failing. Note: to my dad, ‘failing’ is a C. Possibly a B, depending on the other class grades. He always, always wanted me to get straight A’s and would compare me to my younger brothers (the youngest was in elementary and middle school throughout my high school career). How come I couldn’t get straight A’s like them? It was such a stupid thing for him to do. Compare me to my brothers who were in middle school? Middle school classes are so different from high school classes.
My dad didn’t understand why I didn’t do well in math. He told me to study harder. ask my teachers for help. There’s a problem when the teacher wants you to know what you’re asking help for. As a result, I never, ever asked my math teachers (the two I had in three years) for help. They always wanted me to know the concept I was asking for clarification about. My dad didn’t get me math help until the end of third quarter. That wasn’t enough time to fix my grade, and so it remained at a B. Or was it a C? I don’t remember. In my mind, they were equally bad. I wasn’t doing well enough to show my dad I was an outstanding individual. I acted like getting one ‘failing’ grade out of eight wasn’t bad. In my mind, though, that ‘failing’ C or B meant fewer scholarships. I could get into a good college, sure. My GPA was still high enough for that. But my GPA wasn’t high enough for scholarships. I would be ‘average.’ I wasn’t good enough- again.
So when I got the scholarship for full tuition, I was proud of myself. Partially because I, for once, got a high enough GPA for something. My dad, too, was thrilled. But then the thoughts came back again. I only got this scholarship because someone else must’ve withdrawn. I got lucky. That was coming from just me. Then he talked about it with other people. He always said we were blessed and he thanked God, and most of the people he talked to said, “God is blessing you, Jess.”
God? Not me? One of the proudest moments of my life was credited to someone that wasn’t me? I was crushed. I knew they meant well, but it crushed me. My hard work meant nothing.
Fast forward to college. Here I am, trying to write a paper worth 25% of my grade, and I’m feeling like crap. This essay won’t be organized, it won’t make sense. That old mindset from high school is back. My GPA is me. If my grade plummets because I screwed up this essay, my GPA plummets. I failed again. My GPA is me and it defines me. It’s all I have to make me stand out, and it’s pitiful. I’m terrified of a bad GPA because if it’s .2 points near a 4.0, I think I’m failing at everything. I’m letting everyone down. I won’t be anything.
I am fully aware that a GPA does not mean anything in the real world. We did good in school, yes. Now can we do well in the real world where a GPA doesn’t matter? The problem is everyone puts such an unhealthy emphasis on GPA when it means nothing in the real world. I’m fully aware of this, yet I’m still in the mindset my dad put me into when I was in middle school. If I don’t have a good GPA, I can’t accomplish anything. It’s so hard to break out of, and I’m scared of remaining with this ‘everything must be perfect’ mindset until I graduate. I’ll break down, I’m almost sure of it. I’m breaking down now. What do I do? That GPA means everything at this point. I don’t want to get a B or C again. I’ll fail.