When I was a freshman in college, I remember getting a B in my Chemistry class and feeling like my world was falling apart. Those current aspirations of becoming a forensic anthropologist came crashing down on me along with any self-confidence that I had accumulated over my four years as a high honors student in high school.
I remember thinking, “I am a failure and I will never be able to accomplish my dreams." That’s silly now that I look back on it from just having failed a class and believing that a B wasn’t something to be proud of.
But the truth of the matter is, college is hard and we need to cut ourselves a little slack.
Three years later and here I am still struggling with chemistry. The only things that are different are my major, which is now Human Biology, and the class, which is Organic Chemistry 2.
Mind you, school and learning was never something that came easily to me, and I never believed that I was naturally smart. I had to work my tail off for things that some people only had to spend a night along in their room with their flashcards on.
So tackling something as big as Organic Chemistry was frightening and something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The class was hard, really hard, and I rode the struggle bus all the way into the final cumulative exam that was standardized and had an average of 32 percent nationally.
I hoped and prayed for at least a C in the class because anything below that is failing. No one must have been listening to me up there because the Organic Chemistry Gods blessed me with a D.
When I saw this grade, the old feelings from my freshman year came rushing back to me but with vengeance. This time that D wouldn’t count towards me graduating; it would sink my GPA and I would have to retake it, mostly likely in the summer. *Insert crying emoji here*.
All the hard work and effort that I had put into it had been for nothing and I was appalled at my “stupidity” for not making the cut. The tears began to flow along with words of self-hatred and remorse. I felt as though I would never reach my current goals of becoming an epidemiologist and couldn’t see why any graduate school would want someone who wasn’t smart enough to pass a class.
After a day or so of making myself feel incredibly bad about not passing arguably one of the hardest classes in college, I took a deep breath and started to think rationally. I realized that my worth cannot be measured in a letter grade, test grade or my GPA.
Those only reflect how well of a test-taker I am, not how kind of a person I am. I also realized that there is no pass or fail in life, no black and white, but more of a gray color. Sure, college prepares you for the real world in skills, communication and other notable topics that may (or may not) be needed in your career; but will failing a class your junior year actually amount to anything down the road?
The answer is no, of course it won’t! Will that D still matter when you’re traveling the world, getting married or starting a family? Nope! So why do we waste so much time and effort worrying about it now instead of picking ourselves up, brushing ourselves off and moving on?
In the long run, one failed class will not ruin the course of your life or blow your chance to continue following your dreams.
So next time you fail a college class or exam after giving it some solid effort, take a deep breath and remember that a letter grade does not speak on behalf of your personality or how great of a person you are.