January 21 – failure is an option

181/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. As I previously mentioned, I have been on a UBC bent for a few of my recent gratitude posts and on top of that been having discussions with my students about not being perfect. Tonight, all that is culminating into a post about the professors who failed me in three of five courses in my first semester of my first year of university. Yes, you may say that I failed myself but I will disagree and you will understand as you read. Yes, you may say that I wrote about this topic back at 70/365 but that was in relation to my counselor at UBC believing in me – tonight is in honour of actually failing and learning from it. Because of bullying, I put all my energy into school work as I had no other social outlet in high school. I did not have friends and I did not play any sports. Yes, I worked at McDonald’s and worked hard there. However, in school, I exceled. I received no marker lower than a B in high school in any of my classes. I wouldn’t say that I found it easy but with effort, I was able to do well. I even scored well in PE classes as there was written components that offset the physical aspects. When I entered first year university, I thought it would be a breeze. Being in Advanced English in Grade 12, I opted for regular English 100 at UBC thinking I would sail through that class and took a Statistics class as well as Economics, Anthropology and Psychology. At the end of the semester, I ended up failing three of the classes. I honestly thought I understood what I was doing and when I wrote the exams and received my year end marks, I did not give the professors what they were looking for. Not until later years did I realize that high school had spoon fed me and here I was at university not only left holding the spoon but it was a fork and required much different maneuvering for success. At the time, I will be honest, I cried and came home and lost it in front of my mother. Never having failed academically, I thought my world would come crashing down and that I would be disowned and I was a big disappointment. Although she didn’t show me any physical comfort (that hug still eludes me), she was very supportive in her words and asked if I could take the classes over – something I didn’t even consider. Of course, I ended up getting my degree but the greatest memory I have is of failing. It was so very necessary for me as it taught me one of the biggest life lessons – I am human and I am not perfect. I share my story with all my students and I have those professors to thank. I am glad they failed me and I didn’t know I needed it. Failure is an option as long as you learn from it. Failure also builds your character and I also needed that. I didn’t realize how much of an impact that first year and those first failing marks had on my character but I do owe it all to those three professors.

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