The heavy hush is deafening as the professor makes his way down the rows of desks. Result after result is slowly and inefficiently handed back, making the agonizing wait that much more painful. A stifled scream in the back row. A relieved sigh in the first. Some just stuff their papers into the depths of their bags and quickly hustle out. You hear his heavy footsteps before you even notice his eyes centered on you, picking you out amongst the hundreds. You watch as he places the stack of sheets on your desk, paralyzed with fear or shivering in anticipation. Is it actually dripping with red ink, or is it just you? Don’t even look him in the face, lest he lure you into a false sense of security… or impending doom. What will you do? Open it? Leave it until later? Shred it altogether? Try to ignore it, but everyone knows their Facebook Newsfeed is (even as they think) being flooded with posts of carefree consolation and outrageous outbursts. You’re going to find out some way or another. As you walk out, you overhear a classic conversation:
“Oh man, that one kicked my ass.”
“Tell me about it. Gun-fellatio anyone?”
“Count me in.”
“Oh yeah. How’d you do?”
“I’m so sick of this shit. A-, man.”
“Are you kidding me?! I barely scraped a C!”
What follows next is no secret. Mr. High-Achiever is mercilessly railed on for being an ungrateful git and an asshole. His friends tell him to shut his mouth and proceed to ignore anything he says for the next few minutes. Clearly, his only intention was to make them feel absolutely rotten about their marks and promote his own sense of pride and achievement. Right?
Wrong. Newsflash: Not everyone is equal. If that were so, I could as easily model for Sports Illustrated as Kate Upton – fortunately, bikinis just don’t do my curves justice. Each of us has a different set of standards, and we hold ourselves accountable to them. You came to school to study, to excel, and to (hopefully) do something you love. There will always be classes that you intensely dislike – even hate to the very core of your being – but are required to take nonetheless. Students face this in different ways. Either, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to knock this out of the park”, or “I’m going to do whatever it takes to pass and get it out of my way”. Whether you know it or not, you’ve adopted one of these mindsets.
Some may tackle this hypothetical class aiming for the highest grade they can achieve. They may not come out of it with an A. Maybe not even a B. Whether or not this outcome was their fault is another discussion entirely, but what this proves is that people are not equal. So why should we expect them to hold themselves to the same standards? Furthermore, why should others trash them for achieving either higher – or lower – grades?
On that note, I’m not vindicating these Mr. and Mrs. High-Achievers. There are definitely a fair number of them who take some sardonic delight in watching others feel miserable about their own marks, by promptly broadcasting their success to all those within earshot. No, this is instead a cry-out to more modest high-achievers: students who needn’t feel horrible about succeeding where others have failed.
Please, for the love of curved-classes, keep your marks to yourself unless otherwise asked. Keep them quiet, because they are for you and you alone. At the same time, if you do ask someone about their grades, don’t self-righteously come out and attack them because they performed better than you. You asked for it, so move on. It’s the plague of all successful people, whether they’re ‘Good Guy Gregs’ or ‘Scumbag Steves’: Haters gonna hate.