You lay your orange mechanical pencil on the dark, laminate desk. You hand the test to the proctor, insinuating the conclusion of your Finals Week. You walk out of the office, going over the problems again in your head as you cross the opaque, green tile floors of the lobby, making sure you correctly double interpolated for entropy. One full question. That’s what you think you missed at most.
Grades begin to appear on your account throughout the next few days. You hesitantly close your eyes with each mouse click–weary to whether you’ll expect or appreciate the one of five letters you’ve been assigned for the semester. The first four are good. You can work with them.
You sit on the soft, crimson leather couch on Mother’s Day, curious as to whether your last grade has illuminated itself from the darkness of the paper grade book. You’re not worried, however. I definitely did really well on that final, you think to yourself as you log into your account.
You didn’t as well as you’d hoped.
“What do I do now,” you murmur, stunned, as you become paralyzed with worry and that sinking, what-happens-now feeling.
You spend the rest of the week in shock and despair. You did everything you could to avoid this moment. You reviewed practice problems. You flash-carded and memorized every equation. You wrote the derivation for the Clausius-Clapeyron Equation at least 15 times. You prepared enough to pass the last tests, and you replay the entire, 3 hour test in your mind, wonder if your derivations were really that bad.
You’re lost. Everyone tells you to go easy on yourself. But you have to be able to compete with your classmates–the way you see it, as a student, you’re only identified by two numbers–your Student ID number and your GPA.
But you come up with a plan. You recollect to accommodate the hiccup. You reiterate to yourself that you’re still here. You could’ve switched majors during the past two years, but you didn’t. You stayed. And you’re going to stay. And you’re going to succeed. And this doesn’t matter. And this is just a test of how determined you are, of how flexible you are.
Sometimes you will fail. Concepts don’t click as easily for you as they do with others. And you get a little worried, intermittently wondering if you’re in the right place. But you realize that only means that you don’t think like your peers–and that’s a good thing. If everyone’s strengths identically matched, where would the difference in perspective come from? You don’t solve problems the same way–sometimes your approaches don’t work, but, hey, they can’t work every time.
When you fail, you try again. These clauses should be synonymous. “Fail, try again” should be automatic. All that a less-than-par grade shows is that you don’t fully understand a couple of concepts. It doesn’t define your life. It doesn’t define what you do from here on. You learn, and you grow, and you develop a new-and-improved course of action. And it’ll be better than your previous one. And you’ll be ultimately wiser because of it. And you’ll be okay.