Popping the HB Bubble

By Cartier Pitts

We all have our various reasons for occasionally disliking school. It may be the overbearing amount of homework for most kids. Or it could possibly be the “strict” dress code that does not allow us to wear tight leggings, which I do not necessarily hate that much. I think everyone might gag if they saw pink and white stripes through black leggings while walking up the stairs, but I digress. Despite these issues, we are very lucky to go to a school like Hathaway Brown. Every day we come to this place where we are given the best education that is taught by teachers that do nothing but nurture our fecund, budding minds so that we may one day produce valuable changes in the world. They teach us that anything a boy could do, a girl could do better. We have a legacy of alumnae whose venerable achievements inspire us to build a work ethic that will carry us across the finish line. There is no reason why any girl that goes to HB should leave without knowing she is  a beautiful, smart woman that will become “wildly successful”, and will be respected by every person she chooses to grace with her presence.

This is all hypothetically speaking of course. During my time as a student at HB, I have heard many success stories of women who graduated top of their high school class, went to an Ivy, graduated Summa Cum Laude there, and then went on to do become a female pioneer in her field of work. But no one ever talks about what happens if something goes awry in that plan. So what happens if your Freshman and Sophomore years of high school derail your chance of getting into your “dream school”? What happens if you need a couple of extra years to finish a Bachelor’s Degree or you were not hired to highest position right after college ended? It seems like the students that do not fit the mold are told to sit at the children’s table or even hidden in the coat closet when the guests come to dinner. It was not until this year that I realized that there are a couple of flaws with our stellar institution: the inadequate amount of appreciation and acceptance of the imperfect and the absence of instruction on being able to rebound from a fall.

Every day, I see many of my peers belittle their intelligence for something (that in the long run is ultimately frivolous), such as not being in an AP Math class. Another instance where I have seen this happen is when a girl gets a 95% on a test and says she has “failed” or “bombed” and that especially pisses me off. Honey, the last time I checked, a 60% or below is considered failing and a 90% is considered stellar! The amount of insecurities we have about our intelligence and our unique quirks due to our competitive culture is ultimately detrimental to our well-being. Getting a “C” on one History test in the middle of your Sophomore year will not be the lone reason you do not get into a particular university, so there is no reason to cry and obsess over it forever. Many teens that are under such pressure often turn to cutting, pulling hair, suffocation and intentionally taking harmful doses of medication to find relief. According to a 2011 ABC Report, the cause of the high self-harm rate in teens, one in twelve to be exact, is the mixture of raging hormones and unfamiliar hormones. The article continues to explain that a study from Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found that at every stage of puberty, girls are more likely to commit self-harm than boys.  Unfortunately, those who self-harm are also more likely to commit suicide. I do not believe that having a 3.0 GPA is a plausible reason for harming yourself.

I would hate to see any of my peers leave this life prematurely over “bad grades”. What most kids at HB fail to realize is that “B+” here would look more like an “A-” at other high schools and to some college admissions officers. If anything, HB students should be more rational about the way things look on paper, but I also feel that the school should start lending a hand in putting an end to this trend. We should have more discussions about dealing with blunders and how that is not the end of the world. Girls need to learn that life is not the type of race that looks as flawless as the ones Usain Bolt has run. It really looks more like one that a clumsy asthmatic would run: she may fall and need to take some breathers, but she will cross the finish line at the right time. I would also like to see more alumni that have struggled to success tell their stories to our current students around the campus. We need to break this misconception that there is only one path to be successful in a place that has a slogan stating, “There are 1,000 Ways to be Wildly Successful”. So my charge to you, HB girl, is to take sometime during midterms to have perspective and remember that it isn’t all about the grade; it’s about the experience. And I’ll start by popping the little bubble that HB has been in for too long now and you can thank me later.