Today, I got my first grade back on a final exam for the semester. It was a 91. Instantly, I was happy and proud of myself, but then I got to thinking. Freshman or sophomore year of high school I would have been frustrated to see a 91 on the top of a test. I would have gone through every single answer and tried to figure out how I could have possibly gotten so many points off. Now, I’m happy with a 91. Of course, freshman year of high school is very different than freshman year of college, and the exams are different, but either way I could have done better. I should have done better.
Everyone always tells me that I have high expectations, and I need to lower them. I’ve always had huge ambitions in every aspect of my life, and I have no intention of settling. That’s what I tell myself, at least.
Junior year of high school was a very difficult time for me. A lot of my friends were starting to shift focus from hanging out and watching movies to hanging out and drinking vodka. I never made that transition, but I did worry about the fact that not being interested in alcohol would pull me away from my friends. I was focusing on keeping up my friendships more than I’d ever had to, and at the same time the workload was increasing at school. I definitely didn’t balance my energy well and soon after the year started, my grades were nowhere near where they had been before. However, it all worked out. I clearly remember AP US History; my first test score was a 54. FIFTY FOUR. Out of 100. I was distraught and lost and confused. However, there was a retake, and extra credit, and I did well enough on other things to make up fore my mistake. I still got an A in the class. I got As in all of my classes the first quarter. So, the next quarter I put a little less effort in, and then again, and again. By the third and fourth quarters, I was getting an even split of As and Bs, and it didn’t really bother me that much. Mom and Dad were disappointed, but not so much that I was in trouble. I was still “above average” according to the school charts, and that satisfied me. That’s when my expectation dropped from 90s to 80s. I was satisfied with Bs, and my stomach didn’t flip when I saw that grade on a test.
Of course, senior year is notorious for “senioritis” and it’s acceptable to put in less effort. Not in my house. I could have fun and be a senior, but I had to maintain my GPA and make sure I could still get into the University of Texas for Fall 2013. However, at some point in the year I started slacking after seeing all of my friends do the same, and I received a C+ in a class. Disaster. The rest of the year was a very even balance between maintaining my grades and having the maximum amount of fun as possible without getting another C. I managed to get through, and of course got into UT. My GPA was boosted enough from my previous grades that the final number was still higher than most and I was still in the top tier of my class.
Then, college. My expectations carried over from senior year, rather than refreshing to those of freshman year. I received a mixture of As and Bs, and that satisfied me. Now that it’s the end of Spring semester and finals are in full swing, I’ve been thinking about it all a lot. This is the first semester that I may or may not be getting any As at all. I haven’t yet dropped down to Bs and Cs, but I’m scared that it might come to that if I don’t make a big change. My RTF class is right on the edge of an A-, but I won’t know until grades are final and there’s nothing I can do about it. I might get all Bs. For some people, that’s an awesome accomplishment, and that’s something to be proud of. I’m not one of those people, and that’s because of my lifelong tendency to have very high expectations.
Seeing my GPA from first semester and being disappointed in it, and then knowing it will drop even lower once this semester’s grades are finalized, destroys me. I have a friend who was proud of her 2.5 GPA in high school. I would never tell her to her face, but if that had been me, I would have been not only upset, but ashamed. Thinking about that, and knowing that my college GPA could be heading in that direction soon, I know that I need to make a drastic change.
There are a lot of areas of my life that I would love to be able to press a button and have them resemble the past, but my grades are the top priority. With good grades come great opportunities, and those opportunities lead to the changes I want in the rest of my life. I need to stop trying to fix everything at once and just get down to the basics. I need to expect As. I need to work hard for those As, and I need to be pissed off when I receive anything less.
I know that it’s impossible to be perfect, but I used to be pretty damn close, and I will do anything in my power to get that back. Starting now.