Grades Don’t Mean Shit

A few weeks ago, I got my first graded paper of the school year. I knew it was going to be a bad grade because I didn’t try my hardest and my T.A. already told us not to expect much better than a C, but when I saw the C+ on my paper, it felt like a slap in the face.

Over the past month or so, I’d taken so much pride in my identity as a writer. My dad told me I was good at writing, many of my friends and family members told me about how much they loved my blog, and I thought I was pretty good at it. Then I got the C+ and all the praise I’d received flew out the window.

I walked around aimlessly after class, thinking about how much I sucked. After I berated myself for a few minutes, I realized that the grade really didn’t matter. I saw myself basing my self-esteem on what one teacher’s assistant thought about one poorly written outline I handed in at the last minute. She doesn’t know me (she doesn’t know my life!), so why should I let one graded paper define who I am?

When it really comes down to it, grades really don’t mean anything. They may determine whether or not you pass a class, and they may judge whether you’re good at taking tests, memorizing facts, or writing academic essays; but they certainly aren’t any indication of your level of overall intelligence.

Just because you aren’t good at showing what you know through multiple choice tests or essay questions doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. We’re each intelligent in our own way, whether it’s logically/mathematically, naturalistically, musically, existentially, interpersonally, kinesthetically, linguistically, intra-personally, or spatially (taken from the nine types of intelligence).

So don’t beat yourself up about a crappy grade, because grades don’t mean shit.


"'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid" --Albert Einstein

“‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” –Albert Einstein

Full Disclosure

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve started to care less and less about what people think about me. It’s made my life incredibly easier and more rewarding.


I used to try to wait what I thought was the appropriate amount of time before I added someone on Facebook.

I used to pretend I’d never met people before if they didn’t remember meeting me before, just to save face and make it seem like I wasn’t a weirdo (even though I have an uncanny knack for remembering names and faces).

When I was younger, I’d have crushes on guys for years and keep it to myself, just because I was too afraid of rejection.

But after awhile, I reached a point in my life where I just didn’t care what people thought about me as much anymore. I realized that I’ve grown into an awesome person whom I love, and if someone doesn’t end up loving me back, then I don’t need them. I’ve already got myself and a handful of people who do care about me. So why be afraid of what someone thinks about me?

Since I got back to school this fall, I’ve started conducting a personal social experiment. Instead of pretending I don’t remember people when they don’t remember me, I am honest. I’ll tell them that I’ve seen them around, which can actually be really flattering, and makes people remember me more. I used to be self-conscious and anxious about how people could never remember how to spell or pronounce my last name (since I left Guam), but now I give them a cute trick to make them remember me: “It’s Babauta, like I’m Babauta beat you up!”

I wrote an article a few months ago about a guy I was interested in, and when he read it recently, I threw caution to the wind and confessed to him I had written about him, even if it was a bit embarrassing for me initially. And before I told my coming out story, I talked to the girl who helped me on my journey to self-discovery, abandoned my fear of rejection, and told her flat out that I used to like her.

As it turns out, people love honesty! (Who would’ve guessed?) All my past anxieties seem stupid to m now that I know how liberating it feels to be an open book. And coming out to everyone made my life so much easier as well, now that I have nothing to hide. I’m done with bullshitting and I’m done with people who play games and don’t tell me what they really want.

On a related note, I’ve had this line from a song by Garbage rolling around in my head for the past few years:

“If only people would say what it really was
What it really was, what it really was that they wanted”

Because the thing is, what’s the point?

What’s the point in keeping up your walls when you can let them down, and let people in?

Being more open has changed my life immensely. And my hope is that everyone else can learn to be honest and open about themselves too.

So be open; let the love flow.


Blessings in Disguise

Note: This is Lovescrewed’s first guest post, courtesy of my sister/cousin Samantha Barnett, who is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School on Guam.



My cousin Chloe was four years old when I was born and the moment that we first met is immortalized in a family photograph: Chloe is gap-toothed and balancing a baby me in her arms, while smiling mischievously. You could say that our future together was cemented right then. Because we were four years apart, I felt safe. There was just enough age and maturity between us that Chloe experienced every trial of growing up before I did. She had seen around the bend into the future and therefore she was my navigator, giving me advice on handling difficult situations with strength, wit, and foresight. We were like sisters, bound together by our family. Our family could collectively be defined by two traits: firstly, nearly everyone in our family were writers who had found success as journalists; and secondly, nearly every woman in our family was divorced. Our grandparents had divorced, remarried, and divorced again. Chloe’s parents had divorced, and both her mom and dad would eventually remarry and have other kids, making Chloe the oldest child and the oldest girl in a mixed family.


Looking back, I realize that Chloe’s fate mirrored my future. My parents would divorce when I was eleven, but before then I wondered how Chloe was coping with new family dynamics. The summer before my parents divorced, Chloe and I were spending the weekend at my great-grandmother’s house. My great-grandmother has one wall which seems to be dedicated to family history: displaying framed photographs of school pictures (including my great-grandma’s prom picture), family reunions (members of my family were scattered between Guam and the West Coast, mainly California), and wedding pictures. Chloe noticed that the glass of the frame holding my parents’ wedding picture was cracked without actually splitting down the middle. We wondered if it was a premonition of some sort, or if we were just letting it get to our heads. Either way, whether we predicted it or not, my parents divorced within the next few months.

From then onward, Chloe and I were bonded in a different way: we were divorced kids. It changed us, but it made our relationship stronger. We became more cynical, and we couldn’t swallow soap opera love stories without snickering. We speculated about love: wishing that our parents would get back together, gossiping about Chloe’s high school boyfriend, crushing on Johnny Depp, and wondering if fairytale endings really mattered if the prince and princess loved each other at some point.


Then, for the second time in my life, things started to change. Only this time I could not have predicted it. Chloe’s dad had found success as a blogger, and money was coming in. It was an exciting time for her family and they were talking about moving to San Francisco. Moreover, Chloe would be graduating soon and she planned to go to college stateside. At the same time, divorce was casting a more prominent shadow over my life and I was adjusting to my newly dating parents. My dad had a girlfriend who my brother and I didn’t know very well, and liked even less. Within the next year, Chloe left for San Francisco, and my dad told us that his girlfriend was pregnant. It was a blow, and I thought I had never needed Chloe more than I needed her now that she was gone.

We talked irregularly on the phone, and I knew that she was having a difficult time adjusting to a new high school in her senior year. She was in long distance relationship with her high school sweetheart, and it seemed to me that long distance relationships magnified all the tensions that regular relationships only hinted at. I read Chloe’s emails about her jealousy issues and watched my dad attempt to reconcile his rocky relationship with his now pregnant girlfriend. I swore off love, vowing not have a boyfriend until I was in college. At the same time, I delved into a world of fantasy romances, reading Wuthering Heights and The Princess Bride. We thought that divorce was a curse, bestowed upon our family in particular. Maybe Chloe and I fantasized about guys even more than regular teenage girls would, because we were seeking a sense of security.

Talking in Grandma Shannon's garden in Santa Rita

Talking in Grandma Shannon’s garden in Santa Rita

Then something strange happened. Maybe it was because we came from a long line of writers, and our genes had decided to kick in. Chloe and I started sending each other emails, not short blurbs or updates, but lengthy emails that were almost like diary entries. In these emails, we began to come to terms with a world that seemed to be constantly shape-shifting around us. We turned the people in our lives into characters who came alive when we wrote about them.  We were the shape-shifters now, and we found strength in each other, in writing, and in hope. We’ll always be bonded because our lives are rooted in the past, in creating new futures, and more than anything, in the kind of love and heartache that only family can cause.


Enjoy Your Surroundings: Adjust or Be Miserable

When I was seventeen, I thought I had a perfect life and spent the next few years feeling miserable, wishing I could have that life back.

I had spent my whole life growing up on Guam, surrounded by a huge family and a network of friends who loved me. I had a serious boyfriend (who was on the football team), I went to a good school (albeit a strict one) with smart girls, I had a best friend who lived a short drive away, I lived in the same house since I was a kid, and I could hang out with my cousins any time I wanted. My life was perfect.

Then during my junior year of high school, my parents decided to move our family to California. I tried to be happy all year, but towards the summer, I was miserable. When we finally moved, I wanted to die. I lost 10 lbs in the first month I was away from home. I cried myself to sleep every night for about a year, until I went back to Guam the next summer.

I used to resent my parents for not letting me go back to Guam, for taking me out of my perfect life on Guam right before I could experience my perfect senior year, for making me miss the year we won Songfest (I cried so hard when I watched the videos of my class’s awesome performance and had to miss it), and for making me miss out on senior prom with my boyfriend (I skipped out on my senior prom in Davis because I was too emo). I resented myself for not telling them earlier that I didn’t want to leave. Most of all, I resented everyone around me for not being my Guam friends and California for not being familiar. I made myself miserable.


Look how excited I was on my first day of senior year!

I didn’t care about where I was and I decided I’d just go through the motions that year until I got to college. I didn’t make an effort to make any friends; I spent my lunch periods reading Harry Potter alone in a secluded area outside or studying for the SAT (but hey, I got a 1950 with no tutoring, plus straight A’s all year).

Then, before I started college, I got into another long distance relationship. I spent my whole first year of college feeling shitty about everything, wishing I could speed up time and graduate so I could go be with my “soul mate.”

It wasn’t until this year that I finally got over the misery I put myself through. After awhile, I realized that there was no point in being depressed just because I wasn’t back home. Sure, I miss my parents and siblings while I’m at school, I miss my cats, I miss my childhood friends, I miss my family back on Guam. But once I started focusing on what I do have rather than mourning what I don’t, I became so much happier.

I live in Isla Vista, California, where it’s around 70 degrees and sunny most of the time. I live within close walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. I have a handful of awesome friends who all live on the same street as I do. I get to study literature and film in an academic setting and get credit for having brainy discussions with my peers. I get to be a part of organizations I’m passionate about, and work with people my age who are passionate about the same things. I am surrounded by beautiful people, all the time.

All those things were true even through the depression I put myself through during my freshman year, but I didn’t care to acknowledge them. All I wanted was that one guy who lived on Guam who wanted me back.

But now I’m free. I’m finally at a place in my life where I am truly grateful for everything that happens to me (even if I happen to bitch about everything all the time, I don’t really mean it). I see other people I know complain about missing their significant others, complain about missing home, and it makes me sad and frustrated. You may not be in the place you’d like to be at the moment, but for now, you are still in a place full of blessings.

Don’t spend your time feeling bad about what you don’t have, because you’ll never be happy. I had moments of fleeting happiness sparingly for a few years, and I never want to go through that again. I also don’t want to see anyone else go through that either, because it’s the worst.

Instead, be happy. Choose to be happy. Make the choice to be grateful about the amazing life you have, and start by looking around at all the good things around you. It may not be perfect, but neither is the life you’d spend feeling empty, wishing for what you can’t have.


Going Steady: How to Decide If You Want to Date Someone Exclusively

Dating someone exclusively in this day and age is a huge commitment. At my university, almost everyone I know is insanely busy — most of my friends are involved in different organizations, sports, Greek life, part-time jobs, partying every weekend, balancing a social life with friends, all on top of having a 12-20+ unit course load. How could you have any time to give to one particular person, much less the effort it takes to be a dedicated girlfriend/boyfriend? So when you decide that you want to date one person exclusively, you make a huge time, emotional, and loyalty commitment. If you’re seriously considering going steady with someone, there are some questions you should ask yourself before you get Facebook official.

  1. Do you have the time? More importantly, are you willing to make time? A relationship isn’t an organism or a living thing like people make it out to be. All it really is is how you feel about a person, how you treat them, and the quantity and quality of time you spend together. Are you willing to set aside a reasonable amount of hours weekly (or however much time you agree to be together) to connect with this person? If you know you’re too busy and can’t or don’t want to allot time for this person, then don’t make the commitment. If you do want to spend your time with her/him, then go for it!
  2. Is your heart in it? Don’t even start it if you’re not willing to put in 100% of your effort. Don’t waste her time if you know you won’t feel like talking to her, going out of your way to show her you care, or being considerate of her feelings.
  3. Do you see this relationship lasting for longer than 3 months? What’s the point in agreeing to put in the time and effort it takes to be in a relationship, if you don’t see this relationship going anywhere? Some people see relationships as a trial run for marriage, so why waste your time and commitment on someone you don’t see yourself with in the long run? Your youth will pass you by more quickly than you think, and you might as well not waste any of it pursuing a person you don’t take seriously.
  4. Are you willing to be with her, and her alone (or him)? If there’s a part of you that still longs for hookups or feels like you’re making a huge sacrifice by giving up the single life, do not get into a relationship. It isn’t fair for your prospective partner if you still want to play the field. Be a decent person and be honest about your feelings — it’s better to admit that you aren’t ready for a relationship than get her hopes up and let her down later when you finally admit you want to be with other people.

I have a love/hate relationship with relationships. I love having a partner and getting the cute jittery butterflies feeling that comes with relationships; it’s one of the most magical feelings in the world. But I also hate the hurt, jealousy, suspicion, and heartbreak that can come with relationships; they’re the most painful feelings I’ve ever experienced. If you decide that the answer to all those questions is yes, then don’t think about the negatives that come with relationships. You owe it to yourself to take a chance on love, so do it. It’s better to live life taking risks on what you think will make you happy, than living a life full of regret and missed opportunities.

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all” –Alfred Lord Tennyson