It’s that time of year again folks, the one where suddenly a number attached to your name becomes highly important. 59, 60, 69, 70. Out of context they seem fairly innocent, but as prisoners of the library and connoisseurs of the Facebook procrastination scroll- well they certainly have a fair bit of meaning for us. Numbers, eh? Who knew they could determine our self worth, and contribute so much to our happiness? It’s not even an exclusive phenomenon to summer term, or higher education. Likes on Instagram, balance in your bank account, matches on Tinder… It’s starting to seem that our lives are becoming an extended exam.
We “pass” or “fail” these “social tests” based on numbers which out of context mean absolutely nothing. Yet, when assigned meaning, they can gain the power to warp our self-esteem. Too little likes? We jump to ultimatums, question why on earth we’d post that picture in the first place. And conclude by feeling super shit about it all.
The other notable “exam” is the scale. A number which we’re told is important. Weight, size, appearance. Don’t you dare go over a certain number otherwise you’re fat, unworthy and unattractive. Seeing a trend yet? You might argue we’ve grown out of that one with the “fitspo revolution.” However, if you’re not judging yourself through stones and pounds, it’s your body fat percentage, the amount you can lift, or again how many likes that photo of you flexing achieved. These numbers, now more than ever, affect all genders, not just women. It seems instead of doing away with superficial judgement we now subject everyone to it. We live in an age of numerical value. But, accepting external sources of pressure to please other people, without looking after yourself… Numbers become harmful.
The scale doesn’t show the whole picture. Weight is more than just body fat. It’s muscle, food inside your stomach, water, bone, your organs. And it definitely does not reflect your happiness or self-esteem. Some numbers just aren’t worth having. The mark you end up with at the end of the year doesn’t show the whole story either. It won’t define how well liked you are, it may not even show how much work you put towards it. Numbers don’t help us all the time. Especially when we allow them to define us. This isn’t to claim marks aren’t important. But, there is such a thing as balance. Get enough sleep. Drink water. Eat. It’s only for a few weeks. You are more than a collection of digits.