You probably used to be an honors kid in high school, you took all the "smart kid" classes and never had to study. You were told for years how intelligent you were, and the continuous straight A's were evidence of it. But now, you're in college, and suddenly you're finding yourself struggling. You've never had to study in your entire life, and now you're barely scraping by in a basic science course because you've realized you don't know how to study, it's a skill you never had to learn. Soon, you're in class and you're feeling overwhelmed because everyone else seems to be getting it and you're confused. This is what it feels like to have lost that spot at the top of the class, and it's hard, believe me. But it's not the end of the world, or your academic career.
Last semester, I got my first B in college. It was devastating. I was completely abhorred by the fact that the letter grade next to that class would never be an A, that I had failed to get the grade. It took a lot of time, and a lot of convincing from my friends, to realize that a B is not the worst thing that can happen in college, especially in a class that's not at all related to your major. I've become more and more aware that the expectations I place on myself aren't very healthy, and that for the majority of last semester I was killing myself to get the GPA I wanted. That's not how college should be, that's not how life should be. I'm only nineteen, I'm fated to make mistakes and to fail sometimes, but a B is not a failure. It's actually not even close, but when you're used to getting all A's it's easy to make that assumption.
This semester is fresh, I've just started my fall courses, and I've already found myself a little bit overwhelmed by one of my courses. I started to worry again that I'd be left behind, that I wouldn't be able to get the grade I wanted, that I would look stupid etc. But education isn't supposed to scare you, it's supposed to empower you. Maybe this class will be really hard, and maybe I won't get the grade I want, but I'll be a better student after it. I'll know what it means to work harder for something I want, to be more dedicated to my studies. Being an honors student in high school was a disservice to my educational perceptions, I began to feel entitled to good grades because I had always received them. But being smart isn't enough to be a good student, you have to put in the time and the effort. It's time to stop flying by the seat of my pants and relying on my wits to pull me through, it's time to actually work for what I want.
No longer being top of the class isn't defeat, it's incentive. A good grade is worth nothing if you did nothing to deserve it, and a bad grade doesn't mean you are incapable of achieving great things. Education is weird, college is weird, you can try your hardest and still never understand exactly why or how a galaxy is formed, but don't expect to float by without some effort being put in. You don't have to stop living to get good grades either, let your college years be everything they should be- mistakes, memories, awkward moments, bad decisions, great friendships, amazing opportunities, they're all a part of it. Not being at the top isn't the worst thing that can happen to you, so forgive yourself a little for that B.