I hate seeing you so upset when you get a bad grade on a test. I hate seeing you get anxious about the next test and what it will do to your GPA. I hate watching you well up in tears when you tell me how hard you studied and you still didn’t do well. I hate the stress all your classes are causing you.
I hate that you have to navigate this academic minefield and the pressure you feel to succeed. I hate that in this day and age, it takes the strength of a superhero to pry open those tightly sealed admissions doors to colleges, and by gosh, kids are doing just about anything they can to open them.
Is High School Too Stressful?
But you, dear daughter, can’t take on this much stress at such a young age. It’s all too much for anyone to endure, much less a child like you. When I was your age, I didn’t have the excessive expectations that are now placed on you. How did things get so out of control?
How is it that only the gifted academic elite deserve such opportunities and those who are altogether good students get passed by. These days, having a 4.0 GPA isn’t enough. Taking regular classes isn’t enough. Scoring average on ACT’s or SAT’s isn’t enough. And all these unrealistic requirements scream to students who dwell below those bars that they are NOT ENOUGH.
So, dear daughter, listen to me, okay? Let me tell you the truth so you don’t believe the lies that permeate this competitive academic culture you must endure. Let me help you manage the unrelenting stress that our country’s educational systems have forced upon you. Let me give you the much-needed perspective and hopefully, a bit of peace about this maddening season of your life. You only need to truly understand one thing:
Your grades don’t define you.
They never will. Don’t give them that much power. I know you think they dictate your future and ultimately decide your destiny – but that’s because you somehow learned to believe that your grades are bigger than your dreams, stronger than your identity, and more potent than your passion. Oh, my dear, your grades don’t deserve that much weight in dictating who you are. They do not hold that much value. They will never measure your worth.
Watching you crumble over a grade makes me weep, because your identity is wrapped so tightly around your academic abilities, that you’ve lost sight of you. You are who you are because of your own vision and voice. You are built for a path that only you can pave. Your dreams and your goals can not be stolen from you, because of one class or even one-quarter.
There will always be a place for you to grow and establish the footing necessary for you to fulfill your dreams. No grade can change the trajectory of your life and the mission you were destined to carry out.
Your classes are stepping-stones toward your future yes, but they are not big enough to hold the weight of all of you. There are countless stepping-stones you will pass through in your life, and some you may slip off, causing you to fall. But one slippery stone will not change the course of your entire path.
In the multitude of stepping-stones before you, some may be slicker than others, some might be strong and sturdy and perfectly placed for your next move. But there isn’t one stepping stone that mandates your life story. There’s not one grand stepping stone that will become your island.
Every stepping stone has a purpose in your life, and many will refine your goals and sometimes even re-define your dreams. So, you need to look at each class you take as a small stepping stone in your life. Some classes will be slick and others will stick. Some might inspire soul-searching heart-shaking passion that brings new ideas and direction to your life. Others might teach you what you don’t want to do and where you don’t want to go.
Why You Shouldn’t Stress About Grades
Your academics are not an island in themselves. You don’t reside in this high-pressured educational system, you are merely stepping through it – one stepping stone at a time. It does not control you nor define you. Your grades will not determine your life’s course. Life is not solely built on grades. You are built on God-given gifts and abilities that will be used for a purpose that no grade can deny.
So, dear daughter, focus on your talents, your potential, your skills, and your strengths, and yes, tend to those grades with all you got. But just don’t raise them higher than the other parts of your life that are worthy of your time, your heart, and your effort, because those are stepping-stones that deserve your attention too.
Oh, sweet girl, you have your entire life ahead of you and this truth should fill you with joy and excitement, not angst and stress! Take one stepping stone at a time, honey. And remember to never allow any of them to become islands in themselves. There will never be a class, a grade, a test score, or GPA that will ever entirely reflect ALL of who you are, who you’ll grow to be and where you’ll go.
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Christine Carter writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. You can also find her work on Your Teen for Parents, Moms of Tweens and Teens, Parenting Teens and Tweens, Scary Mommy, Motherly, For Every Mom, Grown and Flown, and Her View from Home. She is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” And “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World”. Both sold on Amazon.