My first-year hopes for success in university had already been tempered by the mediocre grades I had received in midterms. At the time, no one helped me understand the correlation between my anxiety and my chest pain.
It is only now, years later, that I can better unpack my anxiety about grades and how it impacted my physical health. As light penetrated deeper into my anxiety, a sentiment lurking in the dark recesses of my thinking was revealed. Like most students, I never questioned what impact my grades were having on my self-identity. By default I attached my self-worth to my grades, but this made me vulnerable to the two facets of pride. Without a robust, God-informed self-identity, I bought into the belief that my academic success was paramount to defining who I was. Now it seems obvious that the three false beliefs I held were only serving to make me miserable. When I measured my worth by my grades, anxiety had power over me and I habitually devalued myself. As I learn to examine and turn from these false beliefs I can chose to define myself by what God says about me instead. What truths did I need then, and still need today, when it comes to evaluating and defining my worth?
I am encouraged that I can now be more conscious of how to increase my awareness of my self-worth in Christ and therefore battle against my anxiety. Understanding the truth of the gospel is the first step when you begin a relationship with Jesus; learning how to unpack and apply the gospel to your life, that’s a lifelong process. Okay, I think you can see how prone we are to make our identity on something other than Jesus. No matter what it is, if you are a child of God, Christ considers you completely perfect and completely acceptable. How does being confident in your identity in Jesus safeguard you from equating your grades with your self-worth?
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I dreaded that these final exams would only serve to confirm that I would never succeed in university. Without being conscious of it, I was interpreting my grades as the ultimate measure of my self-worth. In the process of writing this article, I identified this previously nameless phantom: self-deprecation. I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to apply my identity in Christ to my insecurities about my grades.
Both teachers and peers conveyed affirmation and approval for students with good marks but not for those with poor ones. If I could go back, I would tell myself that I needed to unlock and believe the truth of what God says about me. Yet I still notice a stubborn resistance in me that refuses grace and cons me into thinking I can make my own identity through success. This most often happens when I am studying his Word and in relentlessly honest relationships with other maturing believers. Maybe it’s time to ask God to help you rethink your identity in Christ and apply the gospel to every area of your life. Just replace ‘grades’ with whatever performance or relationship that you are looking to to define your worth.
His voice has been tempered by twenty four years of ministry experience, both as student and staff. It is easy to get the blues when you receive low scores on a big test or a homework assignment, but you can't let poor performance get you down. Anxiety went from bad to worse as I assumed that my poor grades would mean that my future career was in jeopardy.
After a battery of tests, doctors assured me that there was nothing wrong with my physical heart. My academic culture had groomed me to be an achiever, and without question I believed any sense of positive self-worth was dependent on academic success. Don’t get me wrong, getting good grades is okay, but when I used them as my ultimate self-evaluation, my grades took on the role of a merciless taskmaster. My failures are a constant opportunity for me to turn from self-reliance and redefine myself in Christ.

His Word reminds me that my self-worth is a gift of grace from Jesus and not contingent on my performance.
All the approval, validation and affirmation I desire are only going to be fulfilled in what Jesus has already given me. I was caught in a vicious cycle, striving to feel good about myself by achieving good grades, but falling short. Teachers can direct you to resources that are topic-specific. Put all your energy into the final test or project. Don't accept failure!Sometimes, a good grade on the final project or exam can increase your final grade dramatically. Turn off the TV. Talk to your ParentsIf you know a bad grade is imminent, then it might be wise to talk to your parents first. Let them know that you are trying to make a change and improve your performance.Get them involved. Are you taking courses that are too difficult because your diploma program requires it? Review your schedule. Students sometimes complain because they are penalized for poor writing in courses other than English.
While it is true that some colleges place a lot of value in grades, it is also true that they are interested in recruiting humans, not machines.If you are hoping to get into a specific, highly competitive college and you are worried about getting a B, then you are smart enough to make yourself stand out in another way.
If you have tried everything, but you just can't become the perfect student you want to be, perhaps you should give yourself a break.
If you aren't happy with a grade or a report card, you can discuss this with a teacher. However, if you make a habit out of visiting your teacher to complain, then you may be making a pest of yourself.

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