By Ashley Young
October 1, 2017
My first year at college, I was prepared. I had five notebooks for my five different classes, I had four pens (two blue and two black), two “Sticky Note” pads, five folders, a notebook-worth amount of loose-leaf paper, etc. I had the intentions of going above and beyond in my classes. I would imagine myself sitting in the front row of class, spitting out material not even the professor would have known. With this well-preparedness and hunger for knowledge I couldn’t picture myself as anything but an A-student. I’d glow with pride and knowledge and obtain obstinate glares from my jealous classmates.
My first week was great. I copied down everything my professors taught, highlighted my notes, wrote down the homework, studied wherever and whenever, and finished my assignments even before I reached home. As the weeks rolled by, I rolled with the punches of my professors. There was no assignment I couldn’t do, no test for which I couldn’t study, or book that I couldn’t understand. I got A after A after A, and with all of these As, how could I not feel good?
But it wasn’t until my second semester of freshman year in my Western Civilizations class that things turned for the worst. In this class, a lot of the material required extensive readings. I, the good student I hoped to be, found this to be of no problem. I studied for countless hours, took notes, highlighted them, typed them up and so forth. I wore my textbook and notepads raw with black, blue, and yellow ink. I could recite each page front and back. But when the time came, everything went downhill. The examination had nothing to do with what I learned. It was as if I had never studied. I flipped through the pages, searching for questions I could answer but there were none I could find. I panicked and circled whatever answer sounded right. Once I finished my test, I imagined the worst possible situation. As it turns out I had gotten a C. I was devastated. That one C completely tore me down and everything that I had built. I was hurt. I was no longer that A student. I wasn’t the perfect girl I hoped to achieve.
For the rest of the semester, I struggled to keep my grade up in that class. No matter how hard I studied, I scored poorly on the other three tests. For the next couple of semesters, I lost all motivation. I felt dirtied by that C. I just didn’t care about my grades anymore, so for the next couple of years, I put little to no effort. I began to procrastinate and spend more time on personal things rather than my schoolwork. I didn’t care anymore.
That’s where it all went wrong. I pursued something without any precaution to what could happen if I failed. I set myself up. I thought that if I really wanted something I could have it, but that history class told me otherwise. It told me I’m not perfect, that I can make mistakes, that I am not always worthy of an A, no matter how much I beg and plead for it. I never told myself that it’s okay to fail, that it’s okay for me to be a screw up, that I am not perfect and that I am only human.
We are all trying to achieve the same goal. We must make our way through our classes for us to have a future. We understand, we learn, we investigate. We try to get that A. We aspire to be the best to meet with the demands of this world. But we must also remember that it is okay to be at fault. It’s okay to fall. It’s just learning to get back up. We must learn that no matter how much we wish on that star, it won’t magically show up. We must succeed, but we also must learn to fail. We must learn that we will break and that we will have to heal. We will all have that one history class that tears our dreams apart, but we must also learn that these Cs, Ds, and even Bs shape us as well. These sticks and stones that break our bones prepare us for the future. We walk barefoot on these roads, scuffing our heels, bloodying them, but as we go, we learn to make shoes, and we learn to make harder material. We learn to evolve. Success doesn’t shape us, our mistakes do.