Art by Nathan Campos / Daily Nexus

I hope I got an A on that midterm. I studied so hard for it. I can’t afford to do badly. It would ruin my GPA. With a bad GPA, I won’t be able to get into a top-notch graduate school. Then what would I do with my life?

These are the type of thoughts that run through most students’ heads constantly. We live in a revolving door of pressure. As one stress exits, another walks in. An endless cycle that is always difficult to break, but not impossible. Yes, we sometimes bite off more than we can chew. We take multiple rigorous courses just so our transcript looks more impressive. And yes, sometimes the grade received means a lot more to a student than the knowledge gained, but it doesn’t always have to be like that.

We need to change our perspective. Our lives revolve around grades, grades and more grades. But grades will not define who we are in the future, no matter how many students believe that. It’s what we learn in our respective institutions that define the type of people we’ll become in the future.
Don’t let one bad grade get you down. Trust me, there’ll be plenty more where that came from. Enjoy life and try not to crunch numbers, think about your latest essay or think about all the homework you have to do in those relishing moment.

Of course studying comes first. Grades do matter a lot and we should aim to receive the highest grades possible, but it shouldn’t consume our whole lives because then we miss out on so many amazing experiences.

Here’s my helpful nature appreciation tip that has taken a long (long) time for me to practice and continuously keep up with. Sit on a park bench (or a school lunch table, family porch, etc.) for 20 minutes a day. Pick a spot that you appreciate and wouldn’t mind taking in for a short period of time, the place that inspires you and keeps you calm. Let all the stress, from piled up work to a bad breakup, go. Take a deep breath, count to 10 and think about what you’re grateful for in your life. The nature you’re currently observing all around you is true beauty, not getting an A-plus in a class.

Our grades don’t define who we are. We define who we are. I’ve learned that you can’t always center your world on the pursuit of getting good grades, because if you do, you’ll end up losing your pursuit of happiness along the way. Do what makes you happy, not what makes your parents happy or the future graduate school you’re applying to. Sometimes, it’s good to let go and relax because you’re only going to experience college once.

This is the time to make mistakes (I wouldn’t purposefully try to make them though). What’s the cliché everyone says? You’ll just have to learn from those mistakes. So why not make them here, in college, where the mistakes made now become the catwalk we march across to achieve our later maturity. Better to make mistakes when we’re still young and carefree. We’re still okay with falling flat on our faces and dealing with harsh criticism about our future goals. We’re open to making mistakes, but as we get older it gets harder and harder to learn from them.

Of course studying comes first. Grades do matter a lot and we should aim to receive the highest grades possible, but it shouldn’t consume our whole lives because then we miss out on so many amazing experiences. Experiences we might never be able to live again. So yes, study hard, but having fun once in awhile won’t make or break what your receive on your test. A couple of breaks here and there won’t be the end of the world; they will actually help you study better.

Acceptable study breaks at UCSB may include but are not limited to the following: eating Freebirds nachos with friends, party hopping through DP, shopping and spending an obscene amount of money on State Street, watching a free movie on Tuesday in I.V. Theater, guiltily eating a cookie sandwich from I.V. Drip, indulging in the buffalo chicken cheese fries at I.V. Deli Mart and finally a personal favorite of mine — relaxing by the beach, sun shining, cuddled up with the new book you’ve just been dying to read.

In short, remember the United States Declaration of Independence doesn’t say, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of good grades.” (Although I’m sure some people, even after this article, will still see it that way.) Rather, the Declaration of Independence states, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” So go pursue your happiness (although getting good grades definitely wouldn’t hurt).

Neda Mazdisnian hopes you find that sweet balance between happiness and academic success.