I don't mean to brag, but I've always been a pretty exemplary student. Student government, honor council, secretary of NHS, top 5% of my class - you name it, I could claim it (I see it, I like it, I want it… you get the point). When I say that I was success-obsessed, I'm not kidding. From sixth grade to senior year, I don't think I had a class average lower than a 95. I gave myself stomach ulcers in seventh grade from stressing so hard over a fall exam worth *fifteen* percent of my grade. I cried in the floor at the very thought of making less than an A on individual assignments. I never left the house. I studied to the point of exhaustion. I was so wrapped up in my school that I never did anything fun. I was an absolute wreck, but my methods worked. By the end of my high school career, I felt like I was set. Straight A's, good entrance exam scores, accepted by the college of my choice. UGA was not ready for me.
Okay, now here's the joke. UGA was more than ready for me, and it had been ready for people like me for a long while. A key piece of information that I left out previously is that I attended a private school. My class was composed of sixty people. Sixty. One thing I didn't think about before leaving for college is that it's pretty easy to be "exemplary" in school when your entire graduating class could literally fit into another school's janitor's closet. I was a big fish in a tiny pond, which means that, upon arriving at UGA, I found that I was actually completely and utterly (DUH DUH DUHHHH) average.
"Average" is perhaps the worst quality to be discovered in a girl who had worked tirelessly for seven years to preserve her academic prestige. Everyone in my new college classes was better somehow. They were more confident, more intelligent, more prepared, and I felt like my acceptance into the university had to be a fluke. To make matters worse, my very first semester at my new university handed me my very first B in a class. I could hear my GPA crying, but just barely over my own sobs. What had gone wrong? How had this happened? I texted my friends and gave them the coordinates to the dumpster I would be sleeping by for the rest of my life in case they wanted to visit. They promised to bring me their aced exam papers so I could rest my head on something more substantial than the trash I was bringing home.
Seriously, though, I was having a first-semester crisis. I didn't understand how I could go from being so motivated and successful in high school to praying for at least a C on the test I had forgotten about until four hours ago. I thought it over and discovered that the cause for my so-called failure was, unfortunately, completely my fault. And it's called "I wasted a crap ton of time on things that were not school related." There, I said it. I goofed around with friends in their dorms instead of doing my work. I went on late night adventures on weekdays. I sat at The Grill laughing and talking. I went to spur-of-the-moment concerts. I drove to Dahlonega with my friend at two in the morning when I had an exam the next day, just for the heck of it. Yeah. I wasted a lot of time, and my grades showed it. But I kept thinking. And I realized that I didn't regret any of it. Nope, not a thing.
All those memories that I can now recount with a smile were completely worth the tomfoolery, and subsequently, completely worth the B. To me, school had never been anything but the hated, necessary means to an end, and suddenly, I was loving where I was and who I had and what I was doing. I was finally living instead of just existing. I finally had a social life that I loved, and I was going to take advantage of it. A lot of the things I did were admittedly very irresponsible. Since then I've (kind of) learned to strike a balance between work and play and to prioritize what's most important. However, the first semester of freshman year was something I really needed to go through. It showed me that life is more than the means to an end. School is more than the grades I receive. I am more than others' definition of success. Sometimes, the experience is more valuable than the letter you see on a paper. So even if I never get another A in college again, you can be sure I'm gonna make the whole experience my B.