In high school, earning passing grades wasn't hard for a lot of us. In fact, earning exceptional grades was a pretty easily attainable feat. Classes operated like your simple math equations: 2 plus 2 will always equal 4. If you put in the work and attended class regularly, you got out of it what you deserved. For those of us used to earning straight-A's in high school, the first semester (or two) of college can really take a toll on our mental health.

I've found that courses at UF are much, MUCH more difficult than any course taken in high school, which is understandable because of the prestige of the university as well as the simple fact that it's a step up from high school. College isn't for everyone, which definitely isn't a bad thing at all, but I definitely underestimated the difficulty I would have.

For instance, I scored lower than I ever could have imagined possible for myself on an exam last semester and it made me fearful for my GPA for the entirety of the semester. I earned grades that I never would have expected, and honestly, it was largely because I applied the same work ethic I had in high school to my college courses—I know: big mistake.

I allowed the way that I scored on exams to dictate how I felt about myself in the moment. If I earned a poor grade, I felt as though I would amount to nothing, which is an immensely toxic trait to possess. I felt my self-esteem digress throughout the semester to the point that I lived in isolation for the majority of the last few weeks leading up to winter break. I hardly ate, spent more time alone than with others, and often cried over the disappointment I felt that I would cause my parents if my grades didn't live up to their expectations.

What I didn't realize at the time was that the grades I attain in my first year of college are not a reflection of my worth as a person and will most definitely not hinder me from experiencing anything I wish to experience or participating in any opportunity I wish to participate in. What matters more than my grades is the way that I view myself.

I am capable of marvelous things in life, as is everyone, so long as they put in motion the steps they need to carry out what they wish to accomplish. In ten years, no one is going to ask if I received an A in any of the classes I took my freshman year of college (or ANY year, for that matter).

I am worth so much more than any grade given to me. What matters most is that I am living as my most authentic self, learning to love the person I am, and experiencing all of the great things that my college years have to offer me. A lot of the time, you can learn more valuable lessons about life outside of the classroom.

As we approach finals season, I want to remind everyone that the number or letter grade you receive in a class has nothing to do with how smart you are, how capable you are, or how worthy you are. Trying your best is all you can do.