Defined by Numbers

In a society that ranks everybody by numbers, it's time we look beyond them

Rachel Morrell, Junior Co-Editor

The school year has been in session for about five weeks now, and I have already heard many stressful conversations about someone’s GPA or how they did on their first graded assignment. Come on, people! School just barely started and we are already sliding back into our stressful, anxious selves.

If a 64% is the number on the top of your pre-calc test, it’s total devastation. Your entire week is ruined, and one thing racing through your head for the rest of the day is that wretched 64. If 25 is the number of likes on that cute photo you posted the other day, it’s a deflating disappointment that many feel. And if the number on the scale is not up to par, many people consider themselves worthless.

We are growing up and living in a society that ranks everybody with numbers. People used to judge each other on their personalities and interests, and now we compare ourselves to the numbers of others, such as how much lower another person’s weight is, how high their paycheck is, or how high their GPA is. Self-worth is no longer based on the quality of character and actions but the quality of numbers.

One reason we struggle with insecurity is we compare our behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

— Steven Furtick, Pastor and Songwriter

In the social media world, we are constantly competing for who has the most followers, posts, tweets, and likes they receive. In this day and age, it has never been easier for us to broadcast our numbers to the entire world with just a click of a button.

Teenagers have taken on this mentality that, if you don’t have a substantial number of followers or friends, then you aren’t cool. Many feel they are not important if very few people are witnessing their tweets or latest Instagram posts. Yet this state of mind is harmful and not at all accurate. We pick and choose what to share on social media; most of the time we only share the best of the best. But we will never let anyone see who we really are.

Steven Furtick, a pastor and songwriter, once said, “One reason we struggle with insecurity is we compare our behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

Another source of anxiety comes from our school interactions. Junior year is said to be one of the most influential and important years of high school for two reasons: First, we live in a school district where the high schools are split, and transitioning to a new school with more challenging classes can be stressful. Second, it is most likely the last full year of grades that colleges will see on our transcripts. It’s like our last chance of hope to make a good impression and get into college. We cram their schedules with AP and Honors classes to make ourselves seem valuable and worthy of attending a certain college.

On top of that, in our crazy advanced classes we convince ourselves that we have to receive top grades constantly in order to be accepted by our peers. We can often feel like we have certain shoes to fill, and the shoes come with a contract where we must achieve a 4.0 or higher GPA and only receive A’s for all classes, or else society will look down upon us.

I have even caught myself in this trap by making presumptions about others’ intelligence because the rest of the class received a higher grade than I or someone else did. But comparing ourselves to others is degrading; it poisons the mind to the point of just giving up.

Why do we live in a world judged by numbers? To be honest, I truly don’t know. But what I do know is how we can stop comparison by numbers.  I think we’d do some good if we all reminded each other once in a while that we are human beings, not calculators. The numbers won’t always come out right, and that’s okay.

Next time you receive a failing grade, a drop in your GPA, or a loss in followers, remember that these things cannot and should not define you. You are not your numbers. You are a person, a living and breathing person with ideas and creativity and love that the rigidity of numbers cannot portray. You are the things you love, the things you laugh at, and the way you treat others. If your GPA is not up to par, or you are feeling down because of poor grades, remember that in the end, those are not the things you will be remembered for.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.” Don’t make your life one big calculation.