High school is very rough. That’s a fact, but it’s also true that it doesn’t last forever. Here is a little tale about the worst couple of years of my life:

It is said that with great marginal success, one must experience an equal or greater amount of marginal failure and that, without this failure, one cannot truly succeed. Throughout my high school career, I have known marginal failures: not being chosen to be a junior marshal out of a randomly generated machine and missing out on all-conference honors by a slim margin to list a few.

However, GRAND failure had not been a part of my day-to-day experience until recently. At the end of junior year, my grades followed the same general pattern: during my underclassman years of high school, I earned mostly As; junior year, I sported a sprinkling of As and Bs. These were grades my parents and I could be proud of. I assured myself that with these grades I could go anywhere. I was the Golden State Warriors, and I had a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, I only had to win one more game. However, like the Golden State Warriors, I was overzealous and impatient to finish the last game and take home the championship ring—my high school diploma. The one thing I didn’t take into account was burn-out.

Burn-out, like a bad sports injury, can knock you down. After a difficult junior year at a residential high school, followed by Governor’s School, a 5.5 week, intensive summer program, volunteering at Big Brothers and Big Sister, and moving in early to prepare for my new leadership position as a Residential Life Assistant, I was feeling burnt out. In and out of class, I would express thorough knowledge on the subject at hand; however, on exams and other assessments, that knowledge was nowhere to be found.

After receiving my mid-trimester reports, I realized something needed to change; I had C’s or below in three core classes. Never before had I felt like I had failed so much, having to work eight times to go ¾ of the distance. After six weeks of labor, I had still only managed a C in Calculus BC. Looking at my transcript, I had a heavy heart; it was a blemish on my record of success, a loss in a near-perfect season. There was a period of time where I considered ending my college applications process early so that I would not have to worry about the grade.

After some time, I realized that this was my marginal failure; a transcript alone is not reflective of the work and initiative I put into achieving great and total success. My drive for my life and for pursuing academic excellence cannot be represented by an arbitrary letter in a grading system or a standardized test score. Like records, the final scores do not reflect practice hours or heart of play; I reject this system. I will succeed because of my drive, my passion, and my unwavering confidence in my own abilities. I will succeed because my grades and test scores alone do not reflect what I bring to every group I work with and every person I speak to.

Since earning my C in calculus, I have begun my own independent research on the effect of private institutions on surrounding low-income communities and won 3rd place in the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers’ (NOBCChE) Science Bowl competition, successes despite my failure.

At first, I thought that this C on my transcript was the end to my competitive academic career; however, as shown by the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, sometimes you have to lose a few games to make history; this is the philosophy I am choosing to align my life with. They say with great failure comes great marginal success, and I can’t wait to see what I achieve.

Now, I'm starting to think that college is the worst bit of my life. It’s hard to see the future when you’re stuck in the now; but no matter what happens, the sun will always rise and set. We may not see it some days, but it is consistently there. We are never in the dark for too long.