I sit here, staring at a blank screen and wonder how I will ever turn my vicious thoughts into words on this page. My face falls heavy with many dried tears remaining against my beautiful cheeks — I say that positively but feel the urge to describe my body negatively as an attempt to make myself feel better. My fingers are tense, and the raging thoughts continue to spin, creating a web of negative emotions within my brain.
The words “I am not good enough” flow off my tongue with ease, making me uncomfortable with how easily this sentence leaves my mouth.
Our young adult years are insanely painful. We are expected to know what to do, what we want, work full-time, be in school full-time, be in a successful relationship, maintain a healthy figure, and save enough money to buy a house — all while maintaining a healthy mind, body, and brain.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot do all of that. I’ve tried. But instead, I constantly find myself standing at the mountain slide, looking up and unable to move or even lift my feet.
This perspective arose to me one night as I sat in my bed with a calming tea, getting ready to close my eyes. Instead of reaching for a book or my phone to unwind, I decided to reach for my laptop and look at one of my graded midterm papers. Initially, I opened my laptop with the intention of viewing the grade, seeing that it’s probably lower than I wanted since I didn’t put too much effort into the paper, and then shutting it down. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Instead, I felt every emotion and became a wreck repeating, “See, I knew it. I am not good enough.”
Just a pass. All I needed was 65%, and I would be able to turn off my computer and go about my night, enjoying some peaceful sleep. Instead, I downloaded the document, and my heart instantly dropped. My eyes sank, my confidence went away, and all knowledge of strength within myself was lost.
Not only did I not receive a sixty-five percent. But I also received the lowest mark in my entire post-secondary education. A percentage appeared on the top right-hand side of the paper, written in a dark shade of red. I saw two numbers: a five and a zero. I emotionally fell to the ground. A fifty — that cannot be right. There is no possible way I received a fifty percent on this paper.
My thoughts ran through many circumstances.
Maybe I handed in the wrong assignment. Maybe I just didn’t give myself enough time. Or maybe this actually is a level 4000 course. But no. It was the right assignment. I gave myself enough time to process and write something semi-decent. And it is actually a 2200 course.
My anger surpassed me, creating so much anxiety within me. I reached for a rope to pull me up from the deep end. But I didn’t grab a hold of it. I just sat there with embarrassment in my heart, soul, and eyes.
This was a very dark time in my life as I’ve never received a grade like that before, and I pride myself on being a decent student. Of course, I’m not reaching for the nineties or even high eighties, but a fifty is a completely different grade.
I know that I’m intelligent, which is why this really offset my mindset.
After a few days of reflection, I realized something very important for all students to remember: Your professor’s opinions do not determine your intelligence, outcome in life, or ability to think critically.
Many professors mark based on their expectations, and each professor’s expectations are different. Some want more quotes, but others don’t. Some want perspective, but others don’t. And some want examples and personal thoughts, but others don’t want examples and personal thoughts — this post-secondary world is a mess. You can’t please every single professor, and some are just harsher than others. So remember this the next time you get a bad mark.
Please remember that it’s not you.
You are still intelligent. You are still creative. You are still a professional. You will succeed through your education. You will graduate and complete this chapter. One professor’s opinion on your work is not the end of the world. So, remind yourself who you are and carry on. Get that degree and move on. One grade is not the end of the world, and you’re better than that.