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I Have ADHD & My GPA Doesn't Define Me

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Growing up with ADHD, I knew I would never be the student who brought home straight As or the valedictorian of my class. Instead of first place, my closet was full of participation awards and weird little stories and pictures. In class, I found comfort retreating into my own world instead of trying to keep up as my classmates learned their times tables. I knew I would get another C, or maybe even a B on my tests, but it would never be an A. Why try?

As the years progressed and I found myself in middle school, I was put in honors because standardized testing showed that I "excelled," but I never saw it. I was constantly surrounded by students who could recite the definition of a polar bond or name the battle that was fought in Tennessee in the Civil War. As I watched my peers excel, I prayed that my teachers wouldn't see me, but they did. And each time, I stared at my desk waiting for someone to shout out the answer. 

The only time I ever wanted to participate was in English where I could share my stories and choose books to read. When I moved on to high school, I began to read so fast that teachers stopped letting me bring my assigned novels home. I started to find that I not only understood but excelled in my English classes. For the first time, I was the star student and that realization gave me something to cling on to. 

However, English wasn't the only subject. I still had to go to my math, science and history classes. My confidence would plummet as the hours dragged on. English had proven to me that I wasn't stupid, so why couldn't I keep up with everyone else?

As my high school years came to a close, guidance counselors and college prep speakers preached of the importance of a high GPA and class rank. I knew I wasn't at the top of the class, but I was hit with a hard realization when I finally looked at my GPA. My dream of going to a big school far away was crushed. 

As I sat down with the small list of schools I could get into I realized I wasn't enough. My GPA wasn't high enough, my class rank wasn't good enough and I wasn't smart enough. 

With that mindset, I started the beginning of my freshman year at Francis Marion University without any sense of direction. I suffered through Chemistry and Biology, which eagerly reminded me of how little I knew. However, as always, there was one class that brightened my day. As I walked into English I could feel the nervousness building up in my stomach. Yeah, I had been great at English in high school, but this was college. Would I be smart enough?

Four years later, I can now say that I was more than enough. Through my years as an English major I've learned that my way of thinking and learning doesn't mean I'm stupid, only that I'm different. I've been lucky enough to be in a department that has celebrated diversity and teaches not only through exams but experiences. Through FMU, I've had the opportunity to travel abroad and to live alone in a foreign country. I've been able to work with wonderful people who encourage me to follow my heart and my passion. Yes, I still struggle with paying attention. No, I still don't know what a polar bond is. And no my GPA isn't perfect, but that's okay.

All of my experiences have taught me something that I could never learn in the class room. I've learned that there are more important things in life than making straight As or making the Dean's list. While those things will definitely help people out there in the real world, there are other things that people look for in employees. 

I may not have a 4.0, but I'm driven. Instead of depending on my brain for years, I had to get to know people and find ways to make my dreams become a reality by creating my own path. Yes, it's been difficult, and I've hit many road blocks. But I've learned how to talk to people and work hard to make my dreams possible. It's taken a few years but after many all-nighters and pushing to be recognized, my dream is starting to become my reality (without a 4.0 GPA to boot). I now look at my mediocre GPA as a gift. I know exactly what I want, and I make it happen no matter what. The most important lesson I've learned is that I'm more than my GPA.


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