In high school, grades were everything to me. If I was getting anything below a high A, my life was not right, and all of my energy went towards fixing it. I know that a lot of people here were in the same boat, and that's what got us here in the first place. It's not easy to change an entire mindset, especially when it's one that has benefitted us in the past.
Not all of us end up with that choice though, and even those of us that do shouldn't take it. At UT Austin, perfection is simply not a luxury we can always obtain. We're constantly challenged in all directions of our lives, and we have a lot more to worry about than just grades. In fact, if you're not being challenged outside of the classroom in college, you're probably not going to get as much out of the experience as you should.
It's taken a lot of rewiring and feeling guilty for me to be able to say this, though. It often seems like I had everything figured out and suddenly slipped. The reality, though, is that I never had it all figured out. I was good at memorization and organization, sure, but I knew nothing about living next to people who like to blast their music at 3 AM, having almost complete control over my schedule, or having a job at the same time. Yeah, my grade have slipped, but my ability to navigate through something closer to the real world has improved. That's a significant thing to get out of college, too.
Which brings me to my next point—that we cannot live our lives just evaluating ourselves by one metric. For one, we won't really learn this way beyond a superficial level, and secondly, this can turn us into people who see ourselves as complete failures, even when we're working like crazy and learning a lot. So even though it's close to finals and there's a lot of potential guilt to feel when we're looking over our notes and don't understand everything as well as we should yet, we're still learning and have victories beyond what our flashcards tell us. For me, one of those is just being able to see a bigger picture.