Grades & Their False Facade On Set Futures

Happy holidays, everyone! Can’t you all finally believe that Christmas is here? Originally I was planning on writing a post an event that recently finished itself up, but because  most of the photos consisted of people, whose privacy I wish to respect, I decided not to post about that. Instead, I am going to be posting something that has constantly been on my mind. 
“Did you know that for pretty much the entire history of the human species, the average life span was less than thirty years? You could count on ten years or so of real adulthood, right? There was no planning for retirement, there was no planning for a career. There was no planning. No time for planning. No time for a future. But then the life spans started getting longer, and people started having more and more future. And now life has become the future. Every moment of your life is lived for the future--you go to high school so you can go to college so you can get a good job so you can get a nice house so you can afford to send your kids to college so they can get a good job so they can get a nice house so they can afford to send their kids to college.” -- Paper Towns, John Green
Did you pay attention to the college part of this quote? Good. 

Finals. Exams. Whatever they may be called to you, they’re that one thing that often stands between an individual and Christmas break, in December. Perhaps, like you, the course of these particular days bring scares. Today, I sat at my desk, my pencil at hand, with a piece of gum in my mouth and a water bottle to drink down in case I get dehydrated… staring at my test for five minutes straight because of the overwhelming rush of nervousness which rushes through me. The only break that I got was during the lunch hour, where the book competition coach had to go stop several people making out in the library.

My Pre-Calculus and Chemistry finals settled my grades, laying along the high B range. Math and science aren’t my forte; they are the two classes that have taken me the most time to learn how to be successful in. In middle school, it wasn’t until my eighth-grade year that I finally was able to get both A’s in those classes—but then the science classes were of the high school prep caliber while the math classes were actual high school courses, where I, the youngest, was placed. 

Every year, the feeling of disappointment that comes from my parents—and myself—rush in. “Oh, you could have done better if you haven’t spent your time on writing, musical theatre, the book competition, and blogging… We’ll see how things are and then make you drop some of your activities, okay?”

Grades are important, and I get that. Grades affect one’s GPA which colleges tend to analyze during the application process—and I want to get into one of the top universities on the East Coast (one of the Ivy League schools or perhaps MIT, though they do require a strong math and science foundation). The majority of my out-of-school life lies within what I do with my school life. I complete my homework and study for two and a half hours after I get home in complete seclusion, disregarding all other practical matters I need to tend to, such as cleaning my lunch container or organizing the clothes in my closest which had fallen into a pile on my floor.

There are times when I feel like I can’t talk to anybody normally unless it’s about the subject of school. Before, I would talk to friends about the latest novel idea that spurred in the moment or the ways to fix pens (an unusual hobby of mine I find myself doing at times). Now, my conversations are about what we were doing in class, and at the end of the day, when reflecting, I sometimes feel rather empty because school is the only thing I can talk about now while my knowledge of everything non-school related is empty.

There are some days in school where I feel as if I’m on top of things—and other days where I feel as if I am flailing to stay afloat along the drenches of ocean water. I can’t go through the day without thinking, “Oh my goodness, this grade is terrible and it’s going to define me once I submit my college application, and then because of that tiny percentage I am NOT going to go to a good college—“

Stop. Okay, so perhaps tiny percentages do count, but let me get back to the point.

Think about this: colleges and university nowadays under through a “holistic” process, where they go through more than just your grades—they look at SAT/ACT scores, your extracurricular activities. In short, they want to get to know the real you: your likes, dislikes, interests, points where you thrive and areas you struggle in. Isn’t that partially why universities ask for teacher recommendation letters, a college essay, and perhaps an interview?

You are more than just your grades. Once your grades end up the way they are, they stay that way, but your future isn’t set just because of them. Your grades can help build or break you, but they do not define you—how you bounce back does.

Graduation isn’t that far away from me as it was when I first started this blog, and I am striving to work the many aspects that post-secondary educational institutes looks for. In my free time, I try to submerge in artistic areas—they are areas that do interest me. When I’m not performing or writing, I’m constantly thinking about how things work and how they could be improved, like how to readjust my crooked closest door and where the water from washing machines go after their rinsing cycle.

I’m not sure how college me would react when they see this. Maybe by then I would be a published author, blowing off the dust of this blog post and smirking—perhaps I did get into an Ivy League school or MIT (which would be amazing, because it is the hardest school to get into right now and the writing classes there fascinate me). Or maybe colleges are looking through my blog because they are trying to search me up on the internet and this old doodad came up. Hello, from the past. But hopefully, whatever university I get accepted into, they’ll accept me for who I am fully, too.


  1. I love that quote from Paper Towns because it's the most real thing I'd read in a long time. "life has become the future." I know the feeling. It's kinda sad how that tiny percentage can have so much power, and how much getting into a good college or university matters to us and society. What a time to be alive, right?

    The Life of Little Me

  2. I get this. Grades are important and you shouldn't deliberately slack on school because you don't think they matter, but in the grand scheme of eternity that B you got on a subject you were sure you were going to Ace won't mean a thing. It's heartbreaking to see people who give up the things they love just because their parents or teachers are pressuring them. It's a tricky thing to figure out how to be balanced and I'm still learning how to organized my life and my school life.
    Great post! :) And I'm totally with you on math and science. Chemistry is a thing from the devil. :P

  3. Flip I love Paper Towns!! this was super insightful, loved it a lot x
    savannah //

  4. I love paper Towns. Sometimes I wish I could ditch everything and become my own mystery. Because 'I was born to do more than pay bills and dye'. At least, that's what I hope.

    I have a mid term in February and I'm already flipping out; my teacher doesn't teach so I never know what to study, etc.

    Grades are just numbers changed to letters based on fear and stress. They are not me.


  5. Oh, oh, oh. This post hit me so hard, perhaps because now that I'm a sophomore, my stress about college admissions has been rapidly increasing as of late. "I only have two years now to really make something of myself," I keep thinking. And that's terrifying.

    (Combined with that is the fact that several friends of mine have been getting into Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc.—while I'm *unspeakably* excited for them and so glad their hard work has paid off, it also ramps up my fear that I won't have that kind of success with colleges. I want to get into an Ivy so badly, and yet I still feel like come senior year, I won't have any business applying to schools of that caliber.)

    The Paper Towns quote is lovely as well, because it's such an insight, and I adore Paper Towns besides. Thank you so much for this, Morning, and have a wonderful winter break! So glad I found the time to read your blog again. <3

  6. This is so unbelievably true. It hits so close to home. I'm in the eighth grade myself, and my average is in the 80s. In the grand scheme of things, is it really that bad? We have to take time for ourselves to live the life that we want to live, not the one set up for us by society.

  7. I adore Paper Towns. The ending surprised me and made me think, because I was expecting a completely different result. It challenged my idea of "stereotypical endings" but I loved it. I loved the message that came along with it. And I echo your thoughts about colleges. Continue to press on, girl, don't neglect your studies but don't neglect your extracurricular passions too. I think finding the balance between them was real tricky for me, but I hope you figure it out and get to your dream school! xx


  8. I remember that quote from Paper Towns! Actually, as soon as I read your title I thought of it. Admittedly Margo's finest soliloquy in that book—and Paper Towns is John Green's best and wisest book, imo! I relate to this post a lot. I've never been brilliant at math and science, not naturally anyway. Like you, I had to work for those As. Hard work is important but obsession with grades can be harmful. Great, insightful post as always Morning. :)


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xoxo Abigail Lennah