Mind your Mind: How to deal with a crappy grade

We’ve all had to deal with a shitty midterm mark... maybe two or three. Let’s face it, getting a bad grade sucks. It can trigger a lot of “I’m not good enough” thinking, and be a huge blow to your self-esteem. So here are some steps that might help you regain your confidence after receiving a crappy grade.

Allow yourself to feel

The first step to dealing with a crappy midterm mark is to allow yourself to feel. Your feelings are valid and avoiding painful emotions will only bring you more emotional turmoil later on. Denying yourself the right to feel and ignoring your emotions can be a sign of disrespect towards yourself, and won’t benefit your health — or happiness, for that matter. It’s important to cultivate authenticity, so don’t be afraid to go ahead and feel your feelings. Give yourself permission to feel all the disappointment, anger, grief, shame and guilt, and be mindful of the fact that they will eventually pass. Emotions don’t have to destroy us — so have a good cry, get angry, complain to your friends. However, be careful not to fall into the trap of judging reality or making the mistake of exaggerating the severity of the situation.

Give yourself a reality check

If allowing yourself to feel is the first step towards acceptance, giving yourself a reality check is the second. Getting a bad grade isn’t entirely your fault since grades are subjective in the sense that so many factors come into play. You can hardly assume that you are 100 per cent responsible for receiving a shitty mark. Try not to be too hard on yourself and avoid playing the blame game. Remember — grades don’t have to define who you are.

Let go of “supposed to”

“I was supposed to do better.” 

“I should have studied more.”

“I should have received a better grade.”

Do any of these sound familiar? Although letting go of the “supposed to” mentality and “should have” mindset can be difficult, it is crucial to do so. Show yourself some compassion because you’re always doing the best you can.

Learn from your mistakes

Although you aren’t 100 per cent responsible for the bad grade in question, you did play a part in it and taking responsibility for that share of the pie is an important part of the process. Learn from your mistake and practice self-critical awareness. This is a good opportunity to regroup, rethink and come up with a new plan for your studies.

Get support

At this point, it is also a good idea to seek moral support from your friends, or more formal support in the form of professional help such as an academic coach. Learning new coping skills and strategies will be beneficial to you in the future, and although they may not make you feel better instantly, building these core skills should help you increase your confidence levels.

Have faith and don’t lose hope

It’s easy to be discouraged and the feeling of hopelessness can hit as hard as a brick wall, especially if you’ve worked hard on a specific exam or assignment. Hopelessness can lead you to feel as if you have lost control and are powerless. Hence, a good way to cultivate hope is to set realistic goals, be open minded and believe in your abilities to reach the expectations you have set for yourself. Work smarter, not harder. Trust faith and know that everything will be okay.

Lastly, don’t forget that you and your peers are all in the same boat, so getting a shitty grade can become the perfect opportunity to connect, reach out and help each other out.