April 3, 2017

Grades and self-worth

I know I should know better. I know it's better for my mental health and that grades are often a percentage of how many boxes you were able to tick off. However, getting an average grade lingers far longer in my mind than I want it to. (Yeah, I'm one of those people; the type A in the corner triple-checking her work - although to be honest, these days, I'm finding it harder to care as much.) I want the lingering to be shed instantaneously, to be so confident in myself that I know that I'm more than the weighted average of my transcript.

It's clear what greater forces led me here - genetics for sure, my experience as a woman and a medical student, parental pressure, mostly only knowing the confines of higher ed, and the culmination of those factors into my own free will to continue to make the choice of agonizing and fretting about tiny things that don't matter. I once organized a container of buttons by size, shape, and color because it felt wrong not to. The poor lonely mixed up buttons, looking for their families! Neurotic justification.

How do I snap myself out of it? It is time, reflection, going for walks, reading? Those sound like short-term solutions to me, like taking ibuprofen for headaches from a growing pituitary tumor. I've got to cut it out - what's the source? It's a fear of not being enough - that I cannot succeed (whatever that might mean) if I don't do things perfectly. Not enough for myself, for my friends, for my family - but mostly for myself. And then to built an identity on that fear and to call myself type A, to hear others call me type A - suddenly, there is the expectation that you must succeed (again, whatever that means). It's an expectation felt in the ether, formed in the minds of others and expressed in what they say to you, how they look at you, and what they assume about you.

But here's the truth: none of that matters. Success is a table filled with the material goods of luxury, the imaginary titles of power formed through social contracts, and it's a table I want to flip over angrily and watch it all shatter.



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