I’ve learned a lot throughout my first year here at Transy. But out of all the life lessons I’ve gathered, this is the most important: If you ever mess up, in anything ever, you will immediately fail college, your family will disown you, your friends will wrinkle their noses and perhaps make hissing noises whenever you pass them by, and ultimately you will be ostracized from civilization and spend the rest of your life huddled in a makeshift hut on a deserted island subsisting off tree bark and regret.
Or rather, not really. What I’ve actually learned this year is that, while it’s never any fun to make a mistake, when you do, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, failure is a crucial step to growing both personally and academically.
College brings with it a host of new opportunities to succeed, but also a host of new ways to mess up. Obviously, the classes are harder, but that’s not all- you’re also responsible for your own schedule, an entirely new social group, and more challenging extra-curricular activities. Throughout my first year experience, I’ve encountered failure in almost every aspect of my life at Transy: from forgetting to study and flunking a Latin quiz, to chocking up spectacularly before my first extemporaneous speech, to writing Rambler articles with glaring errors.
What was my first instinct after making these mistakes? The obvious: a three-step plan which included first sprinting away in mortification, then eating entire pizza whilst weeping, then giving up forever whichever activity it was that I had messed up. Obviously, this approach was a little less than foolproof, and after consideration I decided to deal with my failures in a different way: by pressing onward and trying to learn from them.
Any learning experience needs some resistance along the way. The chance of failure is the risk we take when we choose to challenge ourselves. I’ve learned the importance of a written schedule from my botched Latin quiz, gone on to win awards in extemporaneous speaking, and have begun paying much more attention to detail in my Rambler articles. I’m now a better scholar, speaker, and journalist. All because I failed.
So why am I telling you this? As you enter your senior year of high school and start to seriously think about college options, you’re likely to find yourself awash in an alphabet soup of GPAs, SATs, and ACTs. You’ll encounter formidable scholarship applications and interviews. You’ll see exclamation-point laden facebook posts from your peers about their college-search-related victories. And in such a climate, it’s all too easy to feel paralyzed by fear of failure.
But one mistake is not a calamity, and neither is two or three. Mistakes are a natural part of self-improvement, and failure can sometimes be the best path to success.