Things That Affect Our Schoolwork Our Parents Don’t Understand

By: Malak Atwa

My entire life I’ve struggled with many things, one of which being my grades. I have two sisters. The eldest gets straight A’s, always. The youngest gets straight A’s, also. And then, there is me. The only time I’ve ever gotten straight A’s was in kindergarden. So, you’d imagine the constant state of compare and contrast happening in my household, of how I’m nothing like either one of them. It’s not that I’m not smart – I mean yes Im no Einstien, but Im not that dumb either – I always do absloutely terrible in tests. That’s just how I am. My parents don’t believe me of course because: “mafesh 7aga esmaha ‘ana msh 3arfa’, esmaha ‘ana msh 3ayza’ ”. It’s constantly an ongoing battle with them – one that I’ve never, nor will I ever, win. 

Right now I’m in 11th grade, a junior. And so far I’m going pretty well. But its just because it’s the beginning of the year. I haven’t had any major exams or projects yet. We’re still in the beginning. No results have come in yet to compare and contrast with my sisters’ – thank god! What my parents don’t realize most of the time is that: they are still parents. I think that they tend to forget that, they tend to forget how much their words can really have an impact on us. How their words can make us really depressed or hate ourselves or dare I say even suicidal. Now, you may be thinking that I’m overreacting but actually I’m really not. I have a lot of friends whose parents are so strict with school work that they literally dread staying at home in order to avoid having confrontation or even just seeing their parents. Just because you don’t have it hard doesn’t mean that others don’t have it hard too.

I don’t know why but every time my parents tell me to study, my sick twisted little pea sized brain – EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THAT I ABSOLUTELY NEED TO START STUDYING – I deliberately defy them. Even if I was just getting ready to start studying, it’s like I’m not doing it for me anymore and I’m doing it for them, giving them more power, or just doing it because they told me to. Therefore I stall, I procrastinate, and I don’t study. Hence the bad grades. But, let’s say that I study, I study really hard. I solve several practice tests. And I know everything in the syllabus letter by letter. But I still get the worst nerves ever during exams and tests. I literally forget anything and everything that I knew and studied. And then I fail. Instead of helping me calm my nerves, I get the “disappointment” card – I think we’re all aware of that card, so I don’t really need to play it.  In tests and exams I get the absolute worst anxiety. I’m all jittery and shaking. I forget everything and I get the worst pit in my stomach right when I receive the paper like I know without even dipping an ink on the page that: I am a failure.

To my parents if you are reading this – they aren’t but whatever – stop comparing. I am not my sisters. I love them. They incredibly smart, talented and beautiful in my things. They are incredible in their own ways, and I am in mine and that is just how it’s going to be. I have good qualities that they don’t possess and vise versa. But comparing me to them constantly will only make me hate myself more. Comparing is not motivation. 
We are constantly told that these exams when we are literally children not only determine our future, but our worth and value too. But I refuse to believe that ink on a piece of paper will determine my worth, because I am much greater than any grade I’ve ever gotten or will ever get, and so are you. Never let your teachers or your parents or literally anyone tell you otherwise because it’s simply just not true. You are not your grades. And parents don’t understand that. They put so much pressure on us and all that ends up happening is that we overexert ourselves until we have no more will power or energy left in us. I have a physics midterm tomorrow, but instead of figuring out how a vibrating body makes one complete oscillation or memorizing every single rule. Instead of overdoing myself and solving practice tests until I can’t see right. I have decided to just study, solve 2 or 3 practice tests and do something that I love. Because at the end of the day I am not my grades, and neither are you. Do something that you love because life it just too short.

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