What My Improvement Looks Like

Getting lower grades is a success for me. That sounds really backwards, because everyone is always aiming for perfect grades and a 4.00 GPA. However, with having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), what I am doing to improve will often be opposite of what would seem like improvement. For each and every person, improvement will be different, and no one should be judged based on one standard of improving.

I have completely destroyed my life to get perfect grades, to have the highest GPA possible, and to be literally perfect in everything I do. While on the outside it looks great, on the inside I am a mess, with every action feeling like a life or death situation that will ruin my chance at perfection. Everything I did is classified as either perfect (and it had to be absolutely perfect) or failure, without any in between. Perfection has been the expectation for so long, that I feel no satisfaction, all I feel is that I am average, but still not good enough.

Therefore, in order to improve my mental health and balance out my lopsided life, I have to challenge my need for perfection. Grades are by far the biggest issue for me, and so that’s what is one focus. My mom has told me for a while that she will be happier if I get an A instead of an A+, and that is a goal that I am trying to achieve. I am aware that an A is still a good grade, but to my OCD it’s seen as failing, so that grade is a good goal that won’t hurt my future college potential.

While doing less work to get lower grades sounds easy, it is extremely difficult for me. I’m pretty sure that I will not face harder challenges than lowering my GPA. Everyone around me is constantly talking about their grades and how they want them to be higher, and comparing scores on tests. How am I supposed work on lowering my grades when it goes against what everyone else is doing? How can I be okay with not always understanding everything completely and being able to help anyone else who is struggling? How can I prevent my already low self confidence from falling when it only depends on my grades? How can I possibly find the courage to put my health in front of my grades?

The answer to all of those questions is that I will have to directly confront my fear, and accept the panic and the breakdowns that follow, without giving into my compulsions of working on things until they are perfect. To others, I’d appear like a mess, crying and irrationally convinced that my life is over, but long term my mental health will get better. I have a long journey ahead, that will be full of twists and turns that come with life, but I will get there, one small step at a time.