Making the Grade
It is the era of acronyms; PSSA, SAT, GRE, LSAT and MCAT. It is a time when a standardize test dictates your future and measures your I.Q. It is a time when people are categorized by a variety of letters - A thru F. When a “grade” is supposed to be indicative of a persons intelligence. These letters shape our self-esteem, life opportunities, career, and in essence, future economic and social standing.
We are lead to believe that when you’re an “A” you walk tall, you’re smart, you’re proud, you’re the best and things come easy. When you’re a “B” you almost made it, it was close, and you know with a little more of something (whatever the hell that may be) you could be better. “C” is viewed as average, generic, in the middle, not good not bad just there. “D” is viewed as just not getting it, maybe showing up, but too lazy to apply yourself. “F” is failure. It starts the word and implies that you’ve learned nothing. Personally, I think these are all “BS” and P.S. who’s the genius that thought up this grading - because they skipped “E”…I’m just saying…
If you’ve ever been to law school or heard about people in law school you know that coffee becomes your best friend and biggest supporter. It motivates you to stay awake. A little piece of warm comfort that keeps you alert, and in my opinion, is one of the few joys of the whole legal experience. So, on one of my million coffee runs to Starbucks I noticed I kept getting a cup with the same silly quote.
“Failure is hard but success is far more dangerous, if you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise, money and opportunity can lock you in forever.”
The first time I read that quote I didn’t understand its meaning. Yet, as the miserable year marched on, the quote started to make much more sense.
No matter what end of the spectrum you sit, you run the risk of ultimate unhappiness. The problem is that we are all defining ourselves with grades and letters. It’s the effect that these letters have on a person that leads to false feelings of success and defeat. The crux of that quote is that when things are socially acceptable and society down right encourages them, it becomes much easier to travel down the wrong path.
I don’t like the idea of fitting into a box and stressing about maintaining, improving or praying to the high heavens that you don’t fall behind. People should not be rated, they should be taught and they should learn. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should all drop out of school and become free-loving hippies. I value education and believe strongly in it. I have always loved school and did exceptionally well. I was the proverbial “A” student, on honor societies and the recipient of various awards. The problem is that I went to law school with my hefty resume and transcript chock full of the coveted A’s to realize that everything wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Getting good grades doesn’t mean that you will be happy or that life choices will be an easier. All it means is that you run the risk of going down the wrong path and no one will notice.
So, after all of this jargon, I have two of my favorite letter combinations to add to the grading epidemic, F.U. I say this not to be harsh but to make clear that the only letters which make any difference are L.I.F.E. Contrary to popular belief, grades do not make you happy, fulfilled, refined, secure, or established. It’s how you deal with those other letters, L.I.F.E. that do. So, I suggest we start paying attention to the right letters and leave the other silly acronyms behind.
SHORT AND SWEET...AKA MORAL OF THE BLOG
Life is hard enough without grading. We should learn to de-program and stop rating ourselves with grades and letters. Its all un-needed pressure. The irony is that we spend all of our academic years trying to fit into a certain category or "box" and the rest of our life trying to break the mold, break the box, and stand out. Its all so exhausting. We all need to be a little kinder to ourselves.
"Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else" ~Judy Garland