I’m breaking up with my GPA.
And let me be clear, I am not breaking up with a 1.4 GPA in pursuit of a higher grade point average. The sentiment is quite the opposite. This 3.75 that I’ve spent the last 5 years raising and maintaining is no longer serving me, so I’m letting it go.
I’ve been in college for much longer than I could have ever guessed. For some context, I was raised with the assumption that I was going to graduate from high school, get a bachelor’s degree in four tough, but rewarding years, and then dive into the workforce with the grace of an Olympian. I graduated high school and that’s where my expectations end.
I immediately began attending a four-year university after high school. And despite being the first in my family to move out in pursuit of an education, I didn’t think twice about it. I soon learned, however, that at 18, I was too young, inexperienced and insecure to live away from my family. After bouncing around community colleges, I found the perfect one, switched majors at least six times, and then I finally transferred to San Diego State University.
During those confusing, sometimes paralyzing, but mostly busy years in community college, my GPA probably fluctuated as much as my weight. I would fall into bouts of depression, eat entire boxes of pizza to myself, wear the same clothes for days, skip weeks of classes at a time and fail exams. Listen, I’m an “A” student. It’s not a humble brag or a point of pride. It’s just true. When I’m not in the middle of a crippling depressive episode, I pass my classes with flying colors and get all As. So when I started collecting Cs and Fs, it was a nightmare. I just kept thinking I need to get better so I can fix my grades. I need to undo this damage.
When I was mentally healthy again, I worked my tailbone off to raise my GPA by taking as many units as I could and throwing myself into my school work while simultaneously working for the school paper, radio station or theater department. I came to learn that while it was comically easy for my GPA to fall, hoisting it back up to its shiny glory required an unfair amount of effort. I needed to ace like three or four classes to balance out one bad grade.
I went into the ring with my low GPA, touched gloves and upon hearing the bells, fought. And hard. I was bloodied, exhausted and covered in bruises throughout the entire process, but I came out on top. My GPA was rising. As an outsider looking in, doesn’t that sound honorable? I stayed up late, woke up early and dedicated every hour of every day to school. I was the epitome of a good student. I had been before, from kindergarten through high school and I’d finally found my way back. It’s inspiring, right?
That’s where I’m not so sure anymore.
I got good grades and a GPA worthy of acceptance offers from all the universities I applied to. But I never got to see my family.
I lived with them, yet never saw them or spent time with them for almost two years because I spent about 12 hours at school every day; I had more mental breakdowns than I can count on my fingers. I would sob during the nights, overwhelmed by the amount of responsibilities I had. Ask my boyfriend how many times I screamed at him the night before an exam, just sobbing that I needed to get a good grade while losing my mind. The stress was like a bubbling tea kettle that would scream every few weeks and I would lash out on those closest to me because I genuinely thought it was the end of the world if I got a B; I even began flirting with suicidal inclinations. Fortunately, I never got to the point where I considered it thoroughly. But nearly every time I drove away from school at 9 p.m. after being there all day for class and running the radio station or rehearsing for a play, I would stare at the freeway’s center divider and fantasize about swerving into it. It’s sick. I was sick. But I kept thinking No one can be mad at me for not completing my responsibilities if I’m dead.
I was so very miserable, I was crying almost every night. Although I wish I was writing this in retrospect, I’m still in school, still taking on more than I can chew, still desperate to keep raising my 3.75 GPA to something even higher. Why?? For what?? Nothing logical, if I’m being honest with myself. I just foster an unhealthy obsession with getting good grades because people expect it of me and I want people to be proud. I still cry until I pass out some nights and even though I don’t look at center dividers with the same worrisome notion as before, I often find myself wishing I could disappear.
The craziest part is, the lowest my GPA ever got was a 3.3. Yes, I went through all that because my GPA “tanked” to a 3.3. I have a warped perception of what a crisis is. Clearly, since I was more worried about a B than the fact that I wanted to crash on the freeway.
So I’m breaking up with my holy GPA.
I’m going to do my assignments, I’m going to study and I’m going to try really hard, but friends, believe me when I say, I am not going to try my best. It’s controversial and counter intuitive. Why am I paying tuition if I’m not willing to give it 100%? I’ve learned that doing my best means neglecting every other part of my life and I’ve tried that for too long. That method gives me amazing grades, praise from professors and fantasies of dying. No more, I can’t take it; I’m done with that. Instead, I’m going to search for balance and a middle ground.
I’m well aware that my GPA might lower. Good. It’s not worth the price. And maybe, just maybe, my happiness might rise in exchange.