Hi. So I'm gonna get real personal for a sec. Bear with me.
So school is hard. And for a lot of you who have finals coming up or deadlines to meet, you’re realizing that you might not be able to prepare for all of it or meet all of those deadlines or whatever the case.
I have an assumed IQ of around 140. My mom, who went to college for psychology and worked with survivors of mental illnesses for most of her working life until I was around 10, strongly believes I’m somewhere on the autism spectrum. I struggled silently with depression, an abusive boyfriend, and thoughts of suicide until my junior year because up until then, I was convinced that the people who were telling me they cared about me were lying and just wanted something from me.
Starting the second semester of my sophomore year, I began to get stress induced migraines because I was so worried about my grades falling below what my family thought they should be at. I stopped wanting to go to school, I began failing tests, I missed an entire month of class due to my headaches. In short, my life sucked. When I got back to school, I had a month and a half left of class to get my grades up from a 1.9 current GPA. I ended my sophomore year with a 4.35 without any outside help. I took the most difficult AP exam in the nation that year as well, one that the average student has two years to prepare for. I had less than a year and passed it with a 4 (worth 2 college credits).
So what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, I’ll tell you.
I graduated from the 224th most difficult high school in the US last Wednesday. This high school that supposedly cared about what I did with my life. I graduated top of my class with a 4.16 cumulative GPA and Academic Honors, recognized by both my senate and house representatives for busting my ass to get where I was by the end of my high school career. I’m going to my dream college, in a town that a lot of people don’t even know exist on a scholarship that covers ¾ths of the tuition.
My school is different in a lot of ways. They foster a blinding desire for success, adopting the cum laude system used by colleges rather than a high school class rank system. Our cum laude system is a little different though, based on the idea that the curriculum is designed for everyone to get above a 4.0 on a 4 point scale, cum laude is given to those select students who have a 4.2 cumulative GPA, magna cum laude is given to those who have a 4.4, and suma cum laude is given to those with a 4.6 or higher.
I missed cum laude by 4 hundredths of a point. Graduating with a 4.16 instead of a 4.2.
I almost had an anxiety attack the night cum laude awards were presented, and I graduated without an ounce of recognition from my administration for the hard work I put into school. All because I was below that 4.2 GPA. In the past 4 years, I’ve cried myself into headaches more times than I can count, had a number of panic attacks over deadlines, and have relapsed 3 times with self destructive habits I thought I had kicked at the end of my eighth grade year.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that school comes easy to me. It’s the one thing I truly understand in life. And yet I managed to go from a public school that completely didn’t care if I graduated or not, to a school that cared so much about my grades that it became unhealthy. Instead of recognizing everyone, they recognized maybe five students that got above average grades and whose parents are actively involved in the school’s activities. But because this school pushed me so hard, it terrifies me for college. All I’ve heard for the past 4 years is “this is what college is like” and things like “If you think this is a good paper, you’ll be in for a surprise when you get to college” and “college college college”. At graduation it was all about making sure we furthered our educations and went on to do spectacular things. As if we couldn’t do that without a college degree.
So yeah. I’m an incoming freshman in college, and the idea of having an anxiety attack six hours away from home in buttfuck Iowa terrifies me. Because school is hard. And I had to literally work my ass off to get where I got by the end of high school (Like…. I lost an assload of weight because I was so focused on assignments I would forget to eat), yet I’m pretty sure my principal couldn’t have told you my first name if she had a gun held to her head. And the idea of being a nobody again scares me a lot. It really does.
So for those of you who are finishing a year of college, whether it be your freshman, sophomore, junior, or even senior year. I congratulate you. Because you finished up an amazing part of your life and you made it the entire way. No matter what your struggle and no matter if you finished it with the outstanding thought that college might not be the right path for you, you tried, you persevered, and you finished an ENTIRE. YEAR. of some of the hardest schooling available to us.
So congratulations, and to those taking finals soon, good luck.