I just bought my first car, and as part of some deal where I could save money because I recently graduated from college, I needed a copy of my transcript. So I requested one and got it in the mail a few days later. Naturally, I looked at it and analyzed every grade I ever got in college (for the billionth time). My first semester in college I got one B, which was the lowest grade that I got over the course of my 4 years. I got a few B+s, and then mostly A- and As. I got more B+s than As when I studied abroad. My fall semester freshman year and my semester abroad had significantly lower GPAs than my others. (Sorry, I know I sound like a brat right now – I normally never talk about my grades, but there IS a point to this!)
I was sitting outside with my dad, staring at the transcript, and my stomach literally felt uneasy looking at those two semesters. I felt so much regret and found myself fumbling to explain why I had gotten lower grades those two semesters. “If I had only known what I know now, I would have done better! I was just a freshman. British professors grade differently.” My dad laughed and rolled his eyes at me. He said that I had done fine. Then he asked me what my GPA was for the semester that I had studied abroad, and I told him.
“WHAT?!” He stared at me. “Are you serious, Allie? Your lowest GPA average was roughly what my cumulative was at the end of my 4 years.” He shook his head and went back to reading the newspaper.
Now, I think of my dad as a genius. I always have and always will. I’ve always seen him as the smartest person I know, and he does great things in his line of work. He was a double major – math and physics. (The Fiete family is full of “nerds,” it’s true. However, we all like to think we’re really “hip” and “smooth,” so we’re not your typical nerds. ;])
Anyway, I felt so silly for caring about that B, years later. But I can’t help it. It still haunted me, which is ridiculous. I got into the grad schools I wanted to! I got into the counseling programs that I liked best, even though I wasn’t a psychology major. I should be thrilled and move on, past my freshman GPA. But I know myself. And I know that I’m always going to remember that B. I’m one of those people. So, what can I do?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and the best answer I can come up with is “Learn from it.” If those excuses I make are true, than learn from them. If they are just excuses, then I need to accept that I did everything I could and that was that. I wasn’t going to get a higher grade in those classes. And it is true that some mistakes were made when I was new into college. I expected to get Bs instead of As, so I was willing to settle for lower grades. I was painfully afraid of talking to professors about anything, even when I was fairly certain they had made mistakes in their grading. I wouldn’t ask for help when I needed it, because the thought of going into their offices made me so anxious. That’s something that I’ve learned I need to get past. Apparently, the final grade I get is going to haunt me a lot more than a meeting in a professor’s office ever will. Luckily I recognized that partway through college and started gritting my teeth and asking for help. And it was so beneficial.
If you’re like me and are forever haunted by the little mistakes you’ve made, try to find a happier perspective, even if you can never fully get over them. You don’t have to be ok with every grade that you’ve ever gotten, or every regret that you have, but as long as you can accept them and try to learn from them, you will be ok. This may all sound cliché, but it really works.
Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm™