By Nick Kopp
The time that I look back to most when I think of learning something about myself was during the summer preceding 8th grade, when I was lucky enough to attend a college-esque experience where we took classes and had fun activities at a college over three weeks, at a program in SMU. The greatest lessons I’ve learned weren’t really in the classes themselves, which were mostly just statistics and math, but rather, how I dealt with failure and how I continue to do so even today. You see, I failed my first test in the college-style math class I was taking, which had never happened before. How could I have possibly done so bad? When I got my test back I was in disbelief, and it began the cycle that I feel that I’ve begun to fall into – failure and catch-up.
When I first failed, I had no idea what to do about my situation. Failing a test, especially a math test of all things, wasn’t something that I was used to in the slightest. My parents had to guide me through the process of getting back on my feet as I began the arduous task of catching up to the rest of the class. Getting an A was going to be tough, if not impossible. And I didn’t really get an A in the end, ending off the class with a B, but I learned a lot when I went through this process of failure. I learned that it’s a lot easier to learn things when you ask people questions and actually do the work you need to do – I got together with study groups and things became a lot easier. I learned that I’m not infallible when it comes to math or anything else that takes any effort at all. And I learned that I couldn’t really slack off on this – I had to keep throwing myself at anything I needed to do. Eventually, I also learned that this would keep happening to me on a lesser scale for the rest of my life – I would fail in almost the exact same way I did at SMU, I would try hard to catch up, and I would perform decently. But I never got out of that cycle, really. I guess the biggest thing I learned from my repeated experiences is that I constantly hold myself back.
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