Here's the thing, I didn't slack on my studies this semester. I really did try my hardest in all of my classes. But the difference between this semester compared to my first semester is this: I'm okay with my GPA not being a 4.0.

I've gotten very close to a perfect GPA in the past. But no matter how hard I studied, I never got that beloved "4.0" stamped onto my transcript. One of my goals entering college was to earn at least one 4.0 because I really thought that meant I was succeeding. I knew how hard I had to work to have decent grades in general, so every semester I challenged myself to receive a 4.0... and every semester I failed.

I have tried endlessly to have good grades. I've pulled all-nighters working on papers. I've woken up at 5 am to get extra studying in before exams. I've sprinted to professors office hours between school and extracurriculars to get extra help.

There is no way I could have tried any harder to be a good student.

Throughout college, I have spent a disgusting amount of time in the library. I've spent too many days stressed out and angry because of an average test score. I have worked myself up over grades that aren't even close to being bad, all because I thought being the best meant I had to have a 4.0.

It took me seven semesters to realize I was missing out on life because I trapped myself in the library all the time.

These past three years, I missed out on things that would make me happy all for 4.0 I never received. This semester I changed the way I studied because I decided that I was working extremely hard without cutting myself a break. In reality, my grades really aren't bad.

I think I've pushed myself so hard because I have been trying so hard without recognition for my efforts. Sure I made the Dean's list a few times but I saw people around me earn a 4.0 and I wanted to be that accomplished too. The process of studying and test-taking defeated me, and this semester I had enough of feeling bad about myself despite my outstanding efforts.

After much reflection, I've realized that I've learned something more important about myself and life by not earning a 4.0.

It is this; hard work may not always lead us to the reward we are seeking. However, hard work will lead us somewhere worthwhile whether we see it at the moment or not.

By not spending every waking second in the library, I was able to see my friends more. This semester I was able to have movie nights with my friends and keep up with different tv shows, something I never have had time for in the past. Instead of studying until 1 a.m. every night I was able to relax during the semester because I finally cut myself a break.

For once I wasn't stressed out every day because of my grades. I learned that if I knew I was working hard, that's what mattered, not if my transcript showed '4.0' or not.

Learning that studying hard will not always bring a 4.0 has changed the way I think about everything.

School isn't all about getting the perfect grade and kicking yourself for not. It's about learning how to balance the things in your life that you prioritize. Before I wasn't prioritizing my friends or family, and I wasn't making sure I was choosing my happiness over everything else. Now I've learned that my happiness comes first. I know I have to work hard but I have learned beat myself up over "bad" test grades.

When I started college I was notorious for being in the library all day, every day. This semester was different, I went out to do fun things with my friends on the weekends, I visited friends at other schools, I was able to catch up with family members, worked a part-time job, and still managed to have good grades.

This semester was filled with amazing memories I wouldn't have had if I hadn't let go of the need to have the most perfect GPA.