The seconds ticked away as I twiddled my yellow No. 2 pencil and stared at the booklet on my desk. I was in the middle of the ACT, and I had exactly nine minutes to answer six questions about the Sahara Desert.
Panic set in as I concentrated on the answer sheet, where empty bubbles now swarmed before my eyes. My panic didn't disappear when I submitted my answer sheet. The next few weeks I remained a nervous wreck as I waited for the results. Then finally the test scores arrived. I was relieved to see scores that weren't too bad. Finally, I thought, life can return to normal again.
But life didn't return to normal. Comparing ACT and SAT scores became the latest craze. It wasn't long before I began to see my fellow students as numbers.
"There goes 28!
Over there's 1,500!"
As silly as it sounds, I'd started viewing myself and others through the distorted mirror of test scores. When I'd run into someone whose score was lower than mine, I'd be up and full of self-confidence. When I ran into someone with a score higher than mine, I'd be down and full of doubts about my abilities.
When I finally set foot on a college campus, other things soon took the place of those standardized scores. Before long, I was asking myself questions like: Did I make the Dean's list? Did I ask smart questions in class? Is my major as tough as everyone else's?
After about a semester of this, I had to stop and ask myself a more important question: Where does my real value come from? I'd known the answer for a long time, but I'd kind of forgotten it. My self-esteem doesn't come from my ability to ace a test or beat out my classmates for top academic honors. My worth as a person comes from God, who lovingly created me in his own image. And that's something that can never be measured by tests, grades or the Dean's list.