Traverse. A two day event for high schoolers to discover universities and internships. That was the first thing I knew about traverse. What I didn’t know was that in only two days, my life will completely shift into another direction. A better direction.
Lately, education for me went from an interesting process of learning to a dull and stressful phase in my life. I was stuck all day memorizing words in a textbook only to regurgitate it onto next week’s test paper, quickly enough before forgetting about it; all for the almighty ‘A’ grade that comes with a bittersweet anticipation along with it. I have noticed that this is because, unfortunately for many generations, young people have been programmed by their parents and teachers that grades are all that matter, not the huge amount of stress they’re put under, not their hidden astounding ability to be creative, nor the long hours they spend on studying. Just their grades, or else they risk being labeled as failures for the rest of their lives. More so, I was one of the many who fell as a victim to such absurd beliefs. Now that I am nearly done with all my exams and dreadfully waiting for my grades to come out, I can confidently assure you of what I wished someone had told me earlier in my high school years: “Grades do not define you!”
Believe it or not, grades do not define you. “Although it might feel like that right now, those grades are not a reflection of your intelligence or your ability. Not getting the perfect grade does not mean it is the end of the world, it just means that there is more room for growth” That was what I learned when I met hundreds of high schoolers that made me feel like I finally belong. Each as astonishing in their own unique ways. I learned the hard way that there’s more to life than a simple letter on paper, that life is about the people you meet and learn from. I found it all in one event; Traverse. So will you. Traverse has impacted me in a way nothing else has. It was a turning point in my life that forced me to develop beyond my realm of thoughts. It was this moment that changed all the other moments in my life. Although to be clear, it didn’t tell me that grades are unimportant, they obviously are and for those who do well, it is a great accomplishment that will serve as a head-start for a bright future. However, it shed light on the fact that grades shouldn’t be the only important component as there is so much more to do. Thus, for those who don’t achieve the grades they desire, it is an opportunity to look at what they can learn from their experience, for there is no limit to knowledge. We can always try again. After all, grades can only get you so far, but it is you and your qualities as a person that do the rest.
As a student myself, I can admit that yes, the rush of emotions you feel before, during, and after receiving your grades can be overwhelming, to say the least. It’s the worst feeling that a letter determines your future whether it’ll help you follow your dream or throw you in another direction. At that moment, time seems to slow down as your mind goes into overdrive, thinking about all the details it might’ve missed. Research has shown that prioritizing good grades over anything can actually do more harm than good as it limits our ability to learn; which kind of defeats the whole purpose of going to school to foster our interests and broaden our minds, don’t you think? So then what is the point? Not only that, but also discovering that just because I didn’t get the desired grade doesn’t mean I don’t get my desired career.
Looking back at history, we can easily find people who, despite not being at the top of their class, had brilliant minds like: Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison to name a few. When we leave the educational institutions and go into the occupational world, we will soon realize that there will always be more knowledge to yet be discovered.
Most importantly, you don’t have to stress about grades because you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner to make an impact. It is okay to make mistakes every now and then. It is okay to have weaknesses and failures. What is not okay is fixating on it, doubting yourself, and questioning your abilities rather than focusing on the variety of other things you can do and enhance.
One more thing I’d like to leave you off with is that in the end, you are meant to walk down the path you were put in, even if it isn’t what you are expecting, for it is all written down. There is a road specifically made for you to wander in, and it starts here with Traverse. So just explore it, enjoy the journey and your destination will be patiently waiting for you.
Written By: Nadeen Mazen