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Katie Atkinson Headshot

I Will Stop Letting Numbers Define Me

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Katrina Wittkamp via Getty Images
Katrina Wittkamp via Getty Images

Just before winter break, my life was consumed by the horror that is finals week. In the anticipation of taking seven exams, I was sent spiraling into a state of stress and confusion as I scrambled to gather notes and regurgitate everything I had learned about anything within the last semester. Tears flowed, anxiety surfaced and I nearly had a mental breakdown. Then, right before taking my AP US History exam, my teacher said something that was a game changer for me -- something I have never heard a teacher say before: "Remember everyone, you are much more than a test grade."

No one replied as he resumed passing out the testing materials. I began to start on my exam and as I worked I was filled with a sense of comfort from my teacher's statement. In all of my time in school, in all of the years I've spent worrying about grades and letting academics define me, my history teacher was the only one to ever tell me that I am more than my school work. I turned his words over in my mind throughout winter break and I decided that my new year's resolution was to stop letting numbers define me.

If you are in high school, there is a good chance that you have felt defined by your GPA, ACT scores, numerical averages, test grades or the number of AP courses you take. You may have felt inferior to a peer whose class rank is above yours. You may have been looked down upon because you take "regular" math instead of Accelerated Calculus. You may have felt less intelligent because everyone you know is taking more AP courses than you. For the majority of my high school career, I have been just like you. I didn't share my unimpressive class rank with anyone. I lied about the B I received in math class because I knew my peers would think lesser of me. I constantly allowed low test grades to make me feel inferior.

This year, I have decided to stop letting these numbers define me. I will no longer base my value as an individual on the numbers I get on a report card or the score I receive on an exam. I will no longer bully myself into thinking that academics can indefinitely make or break me. I will stop letting high school work haunt me. I am more than my chemistry grade. I am more than my GPA. I am more than my class rank, test scores, or AP classes. So are you.