First off, put down the chainsaw, the machine gun, the sword, the magic wand, the sonic screwdriver and all your other weapons. Because if you don't, then I won't explain. Also, they're useless anyways. I made sure I was in a safe place before I wrote this.
So some two, no wait, three years ago (my, time flies, doesn't it?) my Physics class was talking over our latest test with each other when suddenly our teacher burst out "You know, Grades don't really matter." Dead silence... which honestly isn't that odd, since there were only five students. But I digress. The obvious question was "Why?", so naturally one of us asked it.
I don't fully remember my teachers answer, but the general idea was this: Grades are an assessment of your abilities in certain areas. They are only a projection of how well you did in a certain time period on a certain subject. They do not necessarily correctly represent your ability or you. The problem is that because colleges use grades as a form of determining admissions, grades have become important in an out-of-proportion manner. Students will base their self-value off of their grades. Grades become the perfection which they seek to attain. But while grades are certainly valuable and necessary, they're not that big of a deal. Don't let grades determine who you are.
I, being a sophomore at that point, stored the information away, and mostly just... well, I didn't ignore it, but you know... I didn't act upon it in any way, or even think about it.
At the end of that school year, we had a little senior interview thing in which each of the seniors told the rest of the school where they were going what their plans were etc. (It's a small school, 40 kids K-12, we can afford to do this timewise). The last question our principál always asked the seniors was "What piece of advice would you like to give the rest of your fellow students?"
Usually, they all say something like "Do your homework" or "Study for tests", so I paid little attention as they all spoke, one by one. But when the last senior, a good friend of mine, spoke, I perked up. This is what he said. "Don't forget to have fun. Yeah, do your school, but what you'll really remember are the good times. Have some fun."
Some students interpreted his statement as "Don't do school." Some of the more studious ones felt that it meant "Play a quick game of checkers between homework assignments once a semester." But he meant what he said. Do school. But have fun too.
Over the next two years I worked at school and stuffs, trying to maintain grades, but as time went on I began to also make sure I was hanging out with my friends. I even purposely ignored some assignments so I could hang out. Why? These were my junior and senior years. After these, all of my best friends and myself would scatter halfway across the globe in our birth countries (mostly) to go to college, work, live. These were the last years I would get with them. Some I would probably never see again.
This last May, I graduated with my nine classmates, ten seniors, the biggest graduating class in our school history, and according to teachers, friends, and family, we left the legacy of a class with the powerful will to live, with every extreme within at least one of our visions.
We also all went through the interview, and the advice I gave is the what I want to give you younger (and perhaps some older) sparklers, the reason for this post.
Study. Do your school. Do your homework. Try and get good grades. But don't get caught up in school. Live. Hang out with your friends and family. Build relationships. Have fun. Learn to balance the two. It might mean skipping going to the movies to study for a final. It might mean ignoring an assignment and going to play soccer. It meant both for me. You're going to have to find your own balance that you're comfortable with. Remember: You mustn't forget to plan for your future. But you also mustn't neglect to have a past to remember. Go ahead. Do something crazy. Expand your comfort zone by stepping outside of it. Enjoy your next year of school/college.
Originally published on August 24, 2013.