April 24, 2012

Learning to accept failure.

My freshman year I had the misfortune of having an incredibly condescending math teacher.* Not only would she poorly explain the material, when you asked a question she'd get defensive and sneer "why don't you get this?"  I'm not the only one in the class she was continually rude to, but sometimes I thought she had a personal vendetta against me.  It was hard to deal with, especially the last class of the day when everyone is itching to get home.

To put this into better context, I was one of only two freshman in an entirely sophomore class.  I suppose we were expected to be the geniuses, (we had skipped Pre-AICE math 1 after taking Algebra 1 Honors and Geometry Honors in 7th and 8th grade) yet I think that was an unfair assumption.  Maybe I was really apt to do the work, but I let the teacher beat me into a certain kind of submission.  While it wasn't like I aced the previous courses, I should've been doing better. 

I wizened quickly and rarely asked questions in class to save myself humiliation, and only towards the end of the year did I seek out tutoring.  As a result, I had to accept that I wasn't a straight A student and that I had essentially failed.  But I had to learn, albeit the hard way, that the world was not going to end if I got a C for the quarter. The world also wasn't going to end because I failed the AICE Biology exam.**  These failures humbled me considerably, and I am very grateful for the experiences.

Here's why: I feel better off than my classmates who have maintained a 4.0 GPA.  Don't get me wrong; I applaud their efforts to achieve that level of success, but I seriously wonder how they will fare in college having never really failed anything before.  While I know some will be just fine, (especially because they're only going to a state university) I seriously worry others will have to flunk out of a course to realize they're not all-that.  I am well aware that I won't be the smartest at my college, and I'm okay with that.

One classmate in particular has the inability to accept being wrong.  If she is wrong, (which is more often that she'd like to think) she'll either insist she's right or obnoxiously wail over how she doesn't understand it.  And if she's right, her overpoweringly haughty attitude makes me cower into a corner.  Whether she realizes it or not, she's a snob who throws tantrums.  For example, she insisted today in Physics she should still get the points for a question she may have answered insufficiently on the quiz.  I mean, she nearly attacked our teacher as we left class, vehemently saying she didn't have time to write it (when she did; we all did) and it's not fair.  At this point, with only 18 highly stressful days to go, I want to just scream "GET OVER IT!" or "SUCK IT UP!" but that would probably only land me a trip to the dean's office.

All of that to say I think failing is healthy.  Embrace your mistakes, friends.

That's all that matters. Truly.

*You could probably find old posts of mine from 2009 that support this statement.
**I was only one of three not to pass, and then the only one not to take the make-up exam in October.

Days until I graduate: 26
Days until exams are over: 54
Days until I start college: 131


  1. Amen sister.

    Accepting failure is something that most people learn to late in life.

  2. I agree. Failure is a necessary part of life, so the earlier people learn to acknowledge it and accept it, the better. Thankfully most people I know or at least am surrounded with on a day to day basis are comfortable with the concept of failure not being the end of the world, which is good because sometimes I tend to need that reminder myself.

  3. that happened to my friend. She was Valedictorian of my class and she went off to UC San Diego and dropped out before the beginning of her second term because she couldn't handle it.
    I don't mind failing. I think it's good for people to fail sometimes so they know what they can handle.