Opinion | Don’t base your self-esteem on your GPA

Kennedy Payne, Contributing Columnist

For as long as I can remember, I have allowed my grades to determine my value.

For many students, their grades are a deciding factor in their self-esteem. How could this not be the case, when we’ve spent our formative years using them as a metric of success? From early on, we are taught that an “A” indicates intelligence, diligence and ability.

Receiving a B instead of an A, or not receiving an offer for that one coveted internship, does not mean that you are a failure. College students allow these rejections to defeat them. 

The truth is most people do not get perfect grades throughout their entire college experience. The elusive 4.0 isn’t impossible, but it is difficult to achieve. 

When we don’t achieve perfection, we don’t have to consider ourselves failures. We can instead give credit to the achievements we have made and the dedication it took to get there.

It is easy to take rejections or mishaps personally, especially when we’re told that success is where we derive our worth. When we’re preoccupied with external validation, we will become physically and mentally exhausted.

Without a GPA to base their self-worth on, students may feel as though they are left with nothing to define them. In turn, their self-image is lost. 

Find an alternative. Instead of basing self-worth on academics, center it around your personal accomplishments. 

You can celebrate getting accepted to college in the first place, making a good grade on that one test instead of in the class overall, or turning that paper in on time after a busy week.

One person might congratulate themselves for getting up early and making it to the gym; another may want to work towards a better relationship with family and friends; some may feel proud for dedicating themselves to a new hobby.

You cannot allow your life to be confined to academics. It is important to find fulfillment in every area of life, including friends, families and non-academic passions. 

You will not be in school forever, but you will always have your support system to lean on. Don’t wait to finish this semester or get your degree; build that support system now.

The sooner students stop imposing standards of perfection on themselves, the sooner their self-esteem will begin to improve. 

It’s time to stop allowing trivial, external factors to determine your self-worth. Do your best. Give it your all. But if you don’t succeed or fail to meet your personal expectations, don’t dwell on it or let it consume you. Learn from it.

If there’s anything to learn from college, it’s not a specific fact, it’s a growth mindset. It’s a lesson we’ll spend our lives learning: how to love ourselves.