I originally posted this rant on Pastebin and submitted it to Hacker News at the end of my third year of university, after which I went on a year-long internship. I am no longer ashamed to admit that I wrote this, even if it is a bit melodramatic, so I'm reposting it here.
I have driven myself mad over my marks.
When I was in high school, I deluded myself into believing that although I was doing poorly in most subjects, I was among the better students in my class. I believed that my low marks could be explained away by my lack of interest in my studies, and that I could reach the top at any moment just by beginning to exert the smallest amount of effort. The rest of the students in the class were easy enough to group into try-hards who cared too much and losers who cared too little.
This worked well enough for me back then, and although I did not get into the university that I had always dreamed of, I was accepted into one that was good enough for my standards at the time. I heard time and time again that the school was a competitive one, but strongly believed due to my self-confidence that I could keep up my same work ethic and still succeed, as I had before.
I did not. I failed an enriched theory of computation course despite mighty boasts to the teacher about how interested in and motivated I was about the subject material.
After this experience, more reserved about my own abilities, I began to put more effort into my classes. And almost the same, I came close to failing a few classes and did mediocre on the rest. Meanwhile, my friends' marks soared higher than ever, competing and collaborating with each other for the top grades in the class.
Seeing this, I became frustrated, and decided to throw all of myself into my classes. I deleted all the video games off my computer and blocked the social networking and news sites I had been browsing, eliminating what I perceived as the obstacles in my path towards success. Surely now that I was fully engaged, I would crush them, and show them once and for all that I was of the same blood, a top student excelling at every subject I touched.
I am not the same as them.
The students who obtain top grades in classes have an ability to focus like no other. Although they take breaks to enjoy the day and socialize, they do not confuse these activities with performing good work. When they sit down at the computer, they don't interrupt themselves with chats or social networks, but only with matters that are relevant to what they're studying, such as helping out other students or asking questions to their peers.
Under pressure, they excel where I break. They handle stress by pushing forward and filling in the gaps that remain in their knowledge through whatever means possible, while I spend the day bedridden and panic-stricken by my own insecurities.
Regardless of whether or not they like or dislike the material, they break the challenge of studying for a test or completing an assignment into small problems, working away until they know, not think, but absolutely know that they are ready. In contrast, I trick myself into believing that I am prepared where I lack practice, and I lose marks where it matters the most.
It was an insult for me to think that I was ever anything like them. In my drive to show them up, I have broken myself with grief and anxiety comparing my marks to theirs, and I have alienated them through irrational, envious hate. With my final two exams of university next week, I understand now that I was a fool for having confidence in myself and my abilities without reason. I should have put the effort in first and should have only allowed myself to gain confidence through the results that followed.
I only hope that those who read this might catch themselves in time to avoid making the same mistake.
It's worth noting that my view on myself changed dramatically after this time. The company I proceeded to work at helped boost my self-esteem and taught me that while having high standards is a good thing, I shouldn't be so harsh on myself even when I struggle to achieve them. I no longer see myself as a failure when the outcome of a class or project is disappointing; instead, I take it as a sign that there are aspects of my personality I still need to work on to achieve my goals.
Programmer, drummer and occasional blogger.