I’m sitting in class. It’s Thursday morning at 8:30am and I’d rather be anywhere than in a two-hour lecture for general chemistry. Finals are in two weeks. I look down at the notebook in front of me and wonder when I learned to write in hieroglyphs. I’m so frustrated. Somewhere in the back of my mind I know that no matter what I write down it isn’t going to make any sense. I’m defeated. I’m frustrated to say the least. It’s 8:30am in the morning and I’m ready to cry.
My third semester in college was the hardest semester I have ever had. I love college, everything about it, from the two hundred and forty-seven person lecture halls to the personable ten student labs. There are so many personalities and people and opportunities to learn. I was the kind of student that hated high school but knew that I wanted more out of life and in order for me to get what I wanted I needed higher education. So I applied to my local university. The day I got my acceptance letter was one of the happiest days of my life. And the first year went so smoothly that I wondered why I hated high school so much.
The first semester of my second year started off smoothly and even by the end of the drop date I was still going strong. It was harder than the first year, no doubt about that. But I was still so enamored by everything that I tried to ignore the bumps. Except a person can't ignore a bump when it’s a general education class that they need to move on to any other class in their degree path. For me, that class was General Chemistry. I went to lecture. I sat and pounded my head with my notebook and then my textbook, begging myself to make sense of anything my professor was saying. And when that obliviously didn’t work, I geared up. I went to office hours and asked my professor specific questions. I took what he said and my notes and went to group study. When that didn’t help I went to private study offered at the university. The other students tried to help explain things to me as best as they could but even then, by the end of the second month, when I had become a familiar face to just about every tutor in the Chemistry student aid center, I could see them wince when something they had explained seventeen different ways would just go wooshing past me.
At my wits end, I hired my own private tutor. Such a sweet, patient guy that spent hours working over problems I sent him and then helping me step by step to figure them out. Even though I was paying him, he became a friend over the weeks we worked together and by the time finals rolled around he outwardly cringed because there was nothing left he could teach me that would help me survive.
I finished the class with an 'F.' It was the first F letter grade I had ever received. I had also never tried so hard and cried so much over a class. With all the effort I had put into the class, I was trying to figure out how it could have ended so badly, and I was trying to figure out what could I learn from it. The lesson was clear as soon as I looked past the anger.
Sometimes you can give everything you’ve got and it won’t be enough. And that’s okay.
Even though I failed the class, I showed myself just how hard I could push myself for my goals. And that was the important lesson from it all. That if you want something, anything, you have to be willing to push yourself with everything you’ve got. You have to be willing to go outside your comfort zone. There are going to be tears and anger and frustration. By the end of it all, hopefully you get what you’ve been working towards. But it if it doesn’t end up working out and you end up falling on your face, look back at all the effort you’ve put forth and be humbled.
I walked away from the semester and from the Chemistry department with my head hung low. But I knew that I still wanted to go to college. I would just need to take a step back and figure out what else I could do to better prepare myself the next time I took Chemistry. And one day I will go back and I will kick booty in the class because I will be far better prepared and I will know that I can push myself farther than I ever thought possible. That's the lesson I learned.