By Amanda Madenberg
“What did you get?”
Four words. Four syllables. One question—carrying so much weight. You’ve probably heard them once or twice, whether the words were directed to you, or your friend, or the person across the hall. You’ve probably answered a couple times, whether you were happy or sad or indifferent about your score. But have you ever considered the burden you carry in addition to your backpack? Have you ever thought about the little red numbers that define much of your life?
Grades are a major part of South’s culture. But unfortunately, grades are no longer private pieces of information that remain in a binder. They’ve become inextricably tied to emotions that dictate your stress level and happiness on a given day. How many times have you panicked when a teacher handed back a test? How many times did you swallow a golf ball when you haven’t done so well? And how many times have you wanted to punch that friend in the face who insists on knowing exactly what score you got?
We need to start saying “no.” There is absolutely no obligation to share your scores—even if your friends talk about it constantly. While it’s fine to discuss school and homework—after all, these are huge aspects of our lives—we don’t need to discuss red marks. Individual grades just should not have the power to take over our lives and conversations. Besides, it’s no one’s business but your own; you should not feel pressured to share your grades.
Do you like that person who brags about the perfect ACT? Do you like the person who cries over an 85? Do you like the person who never fails to inquire about your math test score? You probably don’t like any of these people—you think they’re arrogant and nosy. The problem? You’re one of them, too. The answer is simple: stop discussing grades! Whether you’ve gotten a 100 with a smiley face, a zero with a note, or any grade in between, no one needs to hear it. Your grades are your property; the property belongs to you. No good can arise from a grade discussion—it leads to a competitive, unhappy, and ultimately stressful environment for everyone.
When you stop sharing your grades, you’ll probably find that they won’t bother you as much. Grades are only as powerful as we allow them to be. Let’s redefine grades: they’re literally tiny figures written in pen. When you think of it that way, do your friends really care what a little red pen says on the top of your page? No—keep the grades to yourself.