Since we are soon approaching a wrap up of the year, I wanted to reflect on one of the most important lessons I learnt this academic year through lockdown. I’m sure most of you will be able to relate to the many difficulties that have come with competing academic work in the same four walls. The fatigue, lack of motivation, loneliness, and most of all the anxiety.
In the midst of one of my all-nighters, after drinking more cups of coffee than I would like to disclose, I had some sort of coffee clarity. As cliché as it sounds, I know I’ll be happy with whatever grades I get this year because I did my best and I want you to feel the same too!
Moment of transparency, I am a chronic over-achiever and it’s never been something I felt was an issue until I physically couldn’t bring myself do the work that would get me the grades I wanted. As I sat down staring at a half-completed word document, I realise that a lot of my worth was placed into my grades. My self-esteem was completely attached to an arbitrary grading system that didn’t factor in the nuances of how everyone’s best looks different every semester. In that moment I had two options. Aggressively tire myself out and deplete my mental health by trying to be the same Naomi I was pre-pandemic or accept that this was the best its going to get given the circumstances.
Now I’m not saying you should give up or be apathetic to your academia, but what I am trying to say is, given the macro-circumstances that directly affect your day to day living- do you not deserve the grace to honour the version of yourself right now that is doing his/her/their absolute best? Does this version of yourself who gets out of bed and still participates in online lectures and seminars almost daily not deserve a high five? Sure I’m sure there are some people who are thriving academically but from the perspective of someone who is just barely average at the moment, I want you to know that it’s okay. I struggled with accepting the unknown, a sure truth was that if I finish with a first-class degree I will look more appealing to employers and to me it’ll make everything worth it.
Accepting the unknown was me acknowledging that I may not finish with a first class degree may not be as appealing to employers because of it. I genuinely struggled to see value in my degree if it wasn’t the highest grade possible. Truth is your degree is valuable no mater what you graduate with. It’s valuable because you put time, effort and money into this. It’s valuable because you complete it while the world felt like it was falling apart. It’s valuable because no matter what, you did your best and no one can every take that away from you.
You are worth more than a grading system, comments on an essay paper and module credits. You are loved and brilliant and if no one else tells you, I’m bloody proud of you for completing this academic year and I know that no matter what, success will still find its way to you!