Prioritizing numbers is hurting your health

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Most students want to receive amazing grades, and a majority of adults want a generous income, but are these luxuries worth sacrificing your mental/physical health for? This is a question most students (and young adults) struggle to get a grip on.

The obsessions that some students have with numbers on a sheet of paper give them a debilitating disadvantage that follows them throughout adulthood. This fixation on a number is tied to their self-worth and can follow them through adulthood, getting passed down from generation to generation.

The difference is that in adults, it arises in the form of an obsession with their salary, which is ultimately just another number on a sheet of paper. Both students and adults use these numbers to compare themselves to others, rate their success and determine their contribution to society.

Some adults wind up working an unhealthy amount of hours each week, just to ensure that the numbers they earn are in tune with everyone else’s, which leads to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Parental Effects

This idea of a student putting their mental health first might contradict some parents’ ideas of the purpose of school, as many parents prioritize the grades that their children get above everything else in their kids’ life, but this shouldn’t be the case. Students shouldn’t have to be subjected to immense pressure and stress to get exceptional grades, as they are often meaningless in the long term (as in 10, 15 or 20 years from now), and they won’t give anyone any extra happiness in their life.

One of the key reasons students care about their grades so much is because of their parents’ attitudes. Parents will always have an effect on how much importance students allocate to different parts of their life.

They can either cause their child to stress out about a C, or say that a C is an acceptable grade. In some extreme cases, parents won’t be satisfied with their children’s grades until they earn a very high average (sometimes around 90%), which is an extremely dangerous and wrong mentality to have.

A situation that will cause problems occurs when a student is trying to get a perfect grade in a subject that they despise and/or have severe struggles with, just to appease their parents. Enforcing a standard of perfection is just a one-way street to children being stressed out.

To help eliminate some of this stress, students should be taught that if they’re not doing well in a subject, that might mean that particular subject appeals to a different set of skills that they just don’t have, and there’s nothing wrong with them. Excelling at a subject that a minority of people are good at is still excelling at something, and that should be rewarded, not punished.

Another issue with parents prioritizing grades is that it’s impossible for an individual to be good at everything they do. Nobody’s perfect, and different people have different skills and abilities.

Almost everyone has a subject where, no matter how hard they try, they just can’t get a perfect mark or sometimes can’t even pass. And when their parents respond by putting more pressure on them to do well, it’s unhelpful and unhealthy.

Internal Difficulties

There’s a secondary factor in this, and it’s an internal problem: burnout. It would be beneficial if students knew what burnout looks like and what they should do to prevent it before they wind up experiencing it.

This should be taught to students while they are young, therefore by the time they get to university, they should will be aware of what the warning signs are, what they can do to prevent it and that their work can’t (and shouldn’t) be the main focus of their life. This would boost students’ mental health, and transform being at school into something enjoyable, rather than a constant struggle and an infinite source of worry.

This idea also transfers over into the adult workplace, and if adults were taught how to have a good work/life balance at a young age, they could lessen the burdens on their mental wellness and find life more bearable, rather than a constant, painful cycle of work and stress. Now, this concept doesn’t have to be taught as an entire class, it could be something as simple as an information session at UNB.

In conclusion, if it were possible to teach parents that their children’s grades aren’t everything and that a C can be a good grade, then their children would be able to have a lot more fun throughout their time in school. Additionally, if students were taught about the dangers of overworking themselves, then their life would drastically improve, and the thought of school wouldn’t have such a negative connotation for people.

The concept of not prioritizing numbers would follow through into adulthood, and improve a high amount of adults’ stress, thus dramatically impacting people’s lives.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.