A Life Beyond Grades?
Politics and Activism

A Life Beyond Grades?

When it seems like everyone has 4.0s and you've fallen behind

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A Life Beyond Grades?
Olivia Jester, Public Domain Pictures

So you guys know I've been pretty open about some of the stuff I've gone through: mental illness, suicide attempts, sexual assault-- the works. I've talked about how its affected my relationships, my world views, how I've healed, etc. But I'm also a college student. So for the average person mental health days are great and amazing tools to get through the semester, with someone with depression that's pretty much constant, it's a joke. So as of right now my college says I'm a double major, double minor. I've always had this struggle of wanting to do so much with my life. I was to do research, I want to be a professor, I want to see the world, I want to help create innovative green technology and clean up our oceans, I want to help maintain stable populations of animals. The whole nine yards. The struggle? That whole depression thing. Now people can say how mental illness isn't an excuse, it's just laziness, blah blah blah. I know that depression isn't an excuse, but it's really freaking hard. I wish I could explain to people the chains I feel around my heart, the feeling of just not being physically able to get up; the feeling of urgency that most people get when they see deadlines, for me, just fades. And the age group with the highest rate of depression is around my age, so I know a lot of my readers probably get it. I get called smart pretty often and yet with depression it can be really hard to feel intelligent at times. And I suppose I have a certain privilege with being seen as smart even with pretty bad depression, I'm sure an unfortunate amount of people are seen as dumb and lazy because of a more debilitating mental illness. However I don't show my intelligence or drive on paper. I'm sure most of the people in my life won't be shocked to see my GPA. And it's the same excuse of "yeah, I can learn the material, but my work ethic is shot and the fact that I don't study or turn in work kills my grades." It's the end of the fall semester which is why I'm writing this. I'm now a second semester junior, I thought I was past the point where I would never get into grad school, I wouldn't get my undergrad degree on time, I'd loose honors. For me, by junior year, my life was pretty much over. Academia is all that I am, and I was able to graduate high school with a 4.0 equivalent, so my GPA in college being so low was rough on me, it brought me down so much lower. But the last article I wrote was about life after surviving an assault, and so this article is about managing a failing college career (that might not be so failing after all). It happened in a few steps. First I addressed the honors thing, because honors has different class requirements so if I dropped out of honors I was terrified of not graduating on time, and the loans due to that would be horrible. So I met with the head of the honors department and just told him about the rough patch I was in-- didn't go into detail, mentioned the fact that I was in a hospital and then in a bad relationship, and he gave me another chance. The rule is that if you fail a class that you are kicked out of the program (yes, I've FXed, ), but he saw my struggle, told me a little story about his dad, and sent me away more relieved than he probably could have ever imagined. Now this isn't an article about how to cure your depression, I've mentioned in other articles how I've been picking myself up bit by bit, no this is more of an article to show how after you pick yourself up things probably aren't as bad as you fear. As I said, as of a couple days ago I'm a second semester junior. Now you might think, as I did, that if you're GPA is shit by the time you're a junior, it's a lost cause (or maybe that's the fear my high school teachers instilled in me). I will say that my GPA was under a 3.0, and through making it on Dean's list this semester it has been boosted quite. Which means that it is feasible to complete my goals as long as I stay on top of my schoolwork (which is so much easier said than done). Why is this so important now? Well I'm sure most people are starting to see posts about their friends getting 4.0s and doing so many great things, and it is hard to be proud of your own accomplishments compared to that. So here's my story-- hopefully relatable, a little hopeful, and the potential to be a success story without the great GPA (for now). Again, I can't really give tips on how to find the ability to pull yourself together (because that's a very difficult personal journey), but I do know that the healing process can be so much scarier than just living in the depression, especially when you see how far the world can move while you're stuck. I'm just here to reassure you that you can catch up to the rest of the world and that even after falling behind it's not just hopeless. And don't look to what other people are accomplishing, because every person has their own struggles, and grades don't necessarily define us. And for those not looking into grad schools, just remember that employers rarely look at GPA- as long as you get your degree, and C's get degrees. College is hard for everyone, and going through college with an illness is infinitely harder, but you're doing it. It doesn't matter if it's a 4.0 or a 2.0, your life is so much more important, and college isn't the end all be all. You may need to leave your goals for a bit, find work no where close to what you want to do. You might feel like a failure for doing that, but you're not. Even if we do have a society that makes you feel like you are. Becoming a lawyer, social worker, doctor, vet, accountant, psychiatrist-- nothing is as important as your health and life, the biggest hope is to have enough time in your life to do all you want to do, and do it at whatever pace you need to to be healthy. Life isn't a race, and after depression you will catch up to the movement of the world, even if it seems impossible. And asking for help can do no harm, and the number of people that will offer help and support may surprise you. So I wish everyone comfort and peace in this time of announcing GPAs where you may feel less accomplished than others.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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