December 15, 2012

Her Circumstances

Northeast Elementary School
Northeast Elementary School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
      In my high school Spanish class, a boy annoyingly dubbed me "4.0 chick". While I was what one might consider studious, the name was hardly appropriate, as I believe my final high school GPA was more like 3.9. Funny how I can't even remember clearly, isn't it? There was a time when it seemed so important. I used to define myself by my grades. A B on a single assignment was worth tears. It meant I had failed. I wasn't good enough, or smart enough. Because being smart was all I really had. I wasn't good at anything else. It was early in elementary school that I learned that good grades could get you attention, acclaim, and approval, something I wasn't getting from my peers.
    Then I went to college. At first, my grades stayed pretty much the same. I was in the honors program and absolutely loving my classes. Then stuff happened. It's hard to pinpoint one thing. I got a life, for starters. But then that life fell apart. The shelter I'd lived under for the majority of 18 years was pretty much obliterated. I guess that's what growing up is. It sucks sometimes.
     In the end, I barely graduated college at all. It took me 6 years. My GPA was something I cannot even bring myself to type here. I had to retake several classes, one with a professor I can't stand. I had to swallow my pride and face classmates who knew I was repeating that class, that I had walked across the stage a year before but failed my summer classes and therefore not actually graduated. Out of shame, I kept it a secret from everyone in my family but my parents that the graduation that they had celebrated with me had turned out to be a fraud.
    Romans 8:28 says that "all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
    A lot happened during my college career. I lost two of the dogs I had grown up loving. My best friend of nine years stopped talking to me. I lost two grandparents in less than a month. I gave up on a relationship I'd been waiting on for four years. I got my first job. I had my first car wreck. I ate pizza in the park in the rain. I wrote papers an hour before they were due. I wore lots of black. I ate ramen while sitting on the kitchen floor and talking with friends. I backed out of the driveway of my childhood home not realizing that I would never ever come back to that same place, as it was in that moment, again.
    While a lot of this was happening, tests and studying just didn't seem all that important. Some people would disagree. Some people say that it doesn't matter, I should have sucked it up and soldiered on and studied and excelled anyway. And maybe they're right. A lot of people with much worse circumstances than me have done much better. 
    But maybe that's not the point. When I first started college, during orientation, a group of us sat out in what I would come to call 'the garden' and talked about what we wanted from our college experience. I told them that I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. And I did. My unspoken desire was to be someone, someone not exactly new, but to be...myself. My authentic self. Not the person who gained the approval of others. Not the overachiever who defined her worth by the letters on her report card. Who lived or died by how 'good' she was perceived to be. Someone genuine. 
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