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Perspective | A healthier wish for my academic goals this year

Growing up, wishes never held much value to me. But now that I am facing more stress than ever between school, work, and family affairs, I find that my biggest wish for 2022 is a more positive relationship with my academic success. 

As a child, I was taught that wishes were for people who had the time to entertain the possibility of failure. So I fought the urge to merely wish for a successful outcome and, instead, latched on to the rigid mentality of pushing myself to work harder and harder. Throughout my freshman year of college, I set my sights on graduating with a 4.0 GPA and holding an officer position of an honor society.

With such a strong, nearsighted mentality and a drive for success, I often found myself pushing for bigger and better things every single day. Surely my calculated pursuit of academic achievements would pay off, even at the cost of myself, my time, and my mental health. I continued with this strategy for months, towards two simple goals that I dared not give up. However, I soon realized how much I underestimated the price of my goals.

Now, I am a second-year student nearing the end of another semester with a 3.9 GPA and am overqualified for an officer position in my honor society. There were only two simple things I wanted by graduation, and I have already managed to miss the mark on both.

However, despite the academic worth of these achievements, my mental health crashed. I simply did not know how to cope with falling short of the pressure I put on myself. I dreaded being the person that simply ‘wished’ for success and fell short. I was adamant that I had to prove to myself and others that I was capable. I had equated so much of myself into a certain quantitative plan, that I failed to simply find joy in the accomplishments that I did achieve.

My relationship with my academics has been too unhealthy for far too long, and in 2022 my resolution is just to let myself enjoy my education and the feats I am able — or unable — to achieve. I plan to obtain this wish by not waiting for January 1st, but by changing how I view myself and my academics now. I have not waited for the new year to come, because for me, my new year starts every single time I decide to choose something for myself. Originally, my new year was the beginning of my freshman year, when I decided that I would dictate my success by two outcomes.

Now, I have chosen to start another new year’s wish and am more prepared and excited than ever for 2022 to begin. And most importantly, even if I slip up once or twice, I am comfortable with the things I have achieved and will continue to strive towards my goals with respect for myself.

Michelle Marshall

Michelle Marshall is a John M. Belk Impact Fellow at EducationNC.