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I'm Average

I honestly don’t remember a time in my life when the thought of school didn't stress me out. I specifically remember 4th grade. I would pack my backpack the night before and probably check it 3 more times the next morning to ensure I had every piece of my homework before we left the house. I would then make my mom walk me all the way to my classroom and stall by talking to the teacher outside in the hallway while I would hurry into the classroom and quickly unpack everything and once again check to make sure I had everything, just to be sure. A little psychotic for 4th grade, I know.

I've always been like that though. My parents have always encouraged me to try my best ,but never put an exorbitant or unhealthy amount of pressure on me to perform and excel in school. The pressure is all internal. I put all the pressure on myself to the point where it can almost make me sick to my stomach. In that same 4th grade classroom, I vividly remember a poster that was hanging on the wall describing the different grades you could receive.

A-    excellent, B-good, C-average, D- below average F-fail

I would look up at that poster and knew that I always wanted A’s and that I would do anything to achieve them. I was never an exceptional student. I’m smart, determined, and driven, and I have always gotten good grades, but most of it is because how hard I work for them. I have always had to put in hours and hours of studying into every test before I feel confident that I know the information. School isn't something that I love or necessarily something that comes easy for me, but that’s partially because of the constant stress it causes me (something I’m working on this NewYear!).

I came to college with a solid foundation and a good work ethic. I took challenging classes in high school and always pushed myself to do the best I could possibly do. My freshman year of college I continued to push myself (and probably spent too much time in the library) but was rewarded by being on the Dean’s list my first two semesters of college! And then sophomore year came along….

Language has never been my strong point. I truly believe that a teacher can make or break a subject for you. I remember loving Chemistry in high school because I absolutely loved my teacher and I remember loathing Spanish class because I wasn't the biggest fan of my Spanish teacher and therefore, struggled significantly in her class. Furman requires that you take a few semesters of a language so I unwillingly signed up for French and prayed for the best. I went in with an open mind and excited at the possibility to learn a new language. Unfortunately, the bad omen continued to follow me.

I got an absolutely horrible professor (a rare occurrence at Furman!!) and struggled significantly in the class. I was frustrated and overwhelmed and would tear up in class almost every day. I spent weeks and nights locked in a classroom studying just to continue receiving terrible grades on tests. I had 2 tutors and nothing was seeming to help. My professor’s tests were just absolutely impossible. I was frustrated at the thought that I was currently succeeding in an extremely challenging Econ class, yet I was barely passing an Elementary French Class! It just didn't seem right! I gave it everything I had and would spend hours upon hours studying with piles of flash cards and my best was only going to get me so far.

Over Christmas break grades came out. As anxious as I was, of course I was going to check it even if it meant it was going to ruin my day! My mom desperately encouraged me not to look, but knowing how much I worry about grades there was no way she was going to talk me out of it.


I got a C.

My best got me a C. Something I had never seen as a final grade in my life. I immediately felt the tears welling up as I imagined that poster from my 4th grade classroom saying I was “average.” My best was just okay. I was devastated.  Not because I didn't expect to receive that grade, but because seeing it on that page meant it was real and that it was final.

After many tears and a few sugar cookies I got over it and decided I couldn't let it ruin my break anymore. In reality, it only brought down my GPA .03% but it still was a little stab to my heart.

As much as it sucked and as much as I wish I could change that C, I’m thankful for what it taught me. It taught me that you can’t always be perfect. It taught me that my best isn't always going good enough, and somehow I’m still going to live. In the long run, when I’m 23 living in NYC (because I’m determined to make it happen!) is that one C in elementary French really going to be affecting my life. Probably not. Yes, it sucked at the time, but it served as a good reminder how not everything can always go your way (no matter how many hours you put into it). And I've come to the conclusion that I'm okay at being just average in French. No one can be excellent at everything, and French is definitely something I'm okay at not being excellent at!

I hesitated publishing this post numerous times. I don’t usually ever share my grades because I think they are an extremely private thing and something you don’t need to tell anyone! But I think it’s an important lesson that can be relevant to everyone’s lives, especially if you put a lot of pressure on yourself like me!





  1. I took anatomy and physiology this semester (my first semester of sophomore year as well :) ) and I struggled so hard and studied harder than I ever have before, and in the end got a C as well. Keep your head up, you know inside you're smarter and better than whatever grade you receive :)

  2. I am in the same boat as you. I have always tried my best to get A's in my classes from a young age. My parents never pressured me to be so crazy about grades but I wanted to make them proud. I also struggle with languages and got the same out come as you but I realize now almost being done with undergrad that that one little low grade won't haunt me for the rest of my life like I thought it would. I made it through and learned that I just need to be realistic about my strengths. Keep going! You got this!

  3. What a wonderful, honest post Shannon. I'm glad you've bounced back and it sounds like you worked INCREDIBLY hard in that class. You're absolutely right that your one C in one class will not make or break your life! So glad you did post this - one of the reasons you are one of my favorite bloggers! You are awesome!

    Michaela || The Monogrammed Midwesterner

  4. Shannon, I totally feel you. My class was business calculus during my freshman year that I needed to transfer to the school I wanted to go to. I was at a junior college trying to complete my core before I transferred. I ended up not even transferring to that school! But I'm so glad I went through it because I learned that no matter what, it's always best to try your best. As long as you did that, you've done your job!

    Courtney | The Everyday Elegance

  5. I completely understand you Shannon. I'm currently struggling in school. I'm going to be doing a post on this on my blog soon, but I loved the way you wrote yours! As long as you do YOUR best, it's all that

    Sophia B.

  6. Great post! So glad you decided to post it. I can totally relate to this and it definitely motivated me going into second semester.

    Renee // gimmeglamour.blogspot.com

  7. Don't let it get you down. It's one grade for one class. I've had a variety of grades over my entire academic career and it's never stopped me from succeeding. And I most recently completed an MA degree. Just think, you passed, so you never have to take it again!

  8. It's so awesome of you to share your college experiences! Trust - we've all been there. You are definitely not alone. The more competitive the school, the worse it is. It becomes less about how smart you are and more about how not smart you hope the others are, haha.

    Enjoy the rest of your winter break! You deserve it!

    Makin' it with Marissa

  9. Girl, don't let it get you down! I was an above average student in elementary and middle school, and then once I hit high school I had the hardest time focusing. I was way more into participating in activities than I was doing my homework, even though I was more than capable. It took me until my senior year of college to really understand the gravity of schoolwork (and to realize how lucky I was to live in a part of the world where women are encouraged to be educated, unlike some other places). I never felt like my grades were an accurate portrayal of the person I was, and now that I'm approaching my 30th year of life, I realize how little those individual grades matter. I've been working at a job I love for the past two years, and not once has anyone ever asked me about a grade that I got in anything (and I got a C in college Latin that I had to take as a language credit!). You cannot capture a person in a grade. Just always remember that, and know that nobody in the "real world" really will ever care what kind of student you were more than the person that you are.


  10. Good for you for sharing this! I know it is hard to talk about grades, especially in the blogging world! And you really hit the nail on the head when you said you are not your gpa! You will not remember the classes you struggled with, but the classes you loved and are proud of your performance in! I made a bad grade in one class my very first class of my freshman year, and I always say it is the best thing that ever happened to me (ironically, it was in spanish!) because it will take the pressure off to be perfect! Good luck in your coming semester! You got this!