Sitting tense in a hard wooden chair, your eyes dart towards the clock in five-minute intervals. The hour seems to pass slower than usual, but all you can do is wait for the minute hand to mark the end of class when your professor will finally hand back the exams.
One week ago, you were sitting in the same hard, wooden chair with your head bowed and your hand moving vigorously between the margins of a thin paper. The world had dissolved on all sides, leaving you with nothing but your racing thoughts, trying to solve this puzzle of an exam. Suddenly, a loud voice jolted you back into the classroom, "Time's up!" A chorus of dropping pencils and ruffling papers rang throughout the room. You handed over the exam with a sinking feeling in your chest; it was much more difficult than you had anticipated and half of the material you studied wasn't even covered. You begin to fear the worst.
The fear has been haunting you all week. And now, the moment of truth: You flip back the corner of your exam and peek at the grade. At first you feel stunned. You had convinced yourself of the worst possible scenario, never actually expecting that it would come true. How did this happen? You wonder. I studied for this all week. You read the chapters, you did all of the homework, you memorized the review sheet and successfully completed all of the review questions the professor had posted online. How did this happen?
Soon the panic sets in as you start to think about the ramifications this score might have on your final grade: I have to drop this course! I have to make this pass-fail! Rushing out of the classroom with the salty taste of disappointment in your mouth, you make a beeline for your dorm where you allow yourself 30 minutes of sadness. But 30 minutes pass sooner than you expect and when the time is up, you must make a decision. You can choose to stay in bed and let your anxiety overwhelm you into a state similar to depression, in which you lose all motivation. Or you can force yourself out from within your cocoon of blankets, accept the reality of the situation and move on with your day. You choose the second.
You take a long, hot shower, cleansing your face of its salty trails and your mind and soul of the despair you felt during your 30 minutes of self-pity. It is time to put things into perspective and to move forward. You know that one bad grade does not reflect upon who you are as a person, still it was very disappointing to see your fears validated so bluntly.
From the moment you read the first question, you knew that this exam was going to be challenging; you left feeling nervous yet knowing that you did all you could to prepare for it. But that does not matter. This grade does not reflect upon how hard you try or how much you work. Let this be a lesson. Go over your mistakes and learn what you can do to improve (whether it be changing your study habits, or taking better notes). Life is full of challenges both big and small; getting a bad grade is not the end of the world. Let this disappointing outcomemotivate you, let it be a test of your resilience because, as the saying goes, "the one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell."