When junior year hit, it hit hard.

It hit in stress and tears and numbers. So many numbers. Test scores, how many AP classes I was taking in comparison to my friends, mid-quarter averages, and a much slower mile time than last year. Numbers that I didn’t like stacked up around me. As the piles of numbers got higher, my self-esteem got lower.

Only two months into the school year, and I had already reduced myself to a neat, tidy list of numbers.

Only two months into the school year, and my whole identity could fit on one sheet of paper.

Only two months into the school year, and my stomach ached daily from the stress. I cut my fingernails to the nub in anxiety. Numbers were taking their toll on me, and I was paying the price for forcing myself into one clearly defined mold.

And so, I would like to offer some advice sixteen years in the making to anybody who has ever felt like her numbers just weren’t good enough:

You are not a number. You are not your grades, you are not your SAT score, you are not the number of honors societies you were accepted into, you are not the amount of extracurriculars you do or the leadership positions you hold. You are not how many friends you have, or how many girlfriends or boyfriends you have had, or how many retweets and favorites you get, or how many parties you are invited to on the weekends. You are not your fastest mile time or your most goals scored during a game. You are not your class ranking or the amount of colleges where you were accepted or your hours of work experience or your answer on “rate yourself one through ten.” You are not your report card or your resumé. You cannot be neatly written down in a few characters by a faceless stranger who determines your self worth and then pinballs you around.

You are the smile that makes everyone feel comfortable, or you are the one kid in class who asks the questions everybody else is afraid to ask, or you are the person who makes everyone feel like they have at least one friend, or you are sarcasm and little tact rolled into one lovable ball, or you are the classmate everyone can rely on to help with homework, or you are the designated driver, or you are the dog lover, or you are the person who knows how to study but also how to have fun, or you are just really passionate about juice. Or you are all of these things, or you are none of them. You are the beautiful space in between the numbers, an impossible amount. You cannot be quantitatively measured. Don’t write yourself down as a series of numbers and expect to be effectively encapsulated, because you can’t. Don’t look at a bad chemistry grade and think that’s who you are, because it’s not.

You are the only you on the planet. There has never been another you, and there never will be another you in the history of the universe. You are not a 63% test grade, you are not a 9:34 mile time, you are not thirteen favorites and two retweets. If humans could be measured in numbers, the world would be a very dull place.

Stay in math class, numbers. I was always more of an English person anyways.