Reflecting Back on how one tiny letter could be so horrific.
My sophomore year of high school, I decided to take Algebra 2/Trig. My mom insisted that I take just Algebra 2 instead of its harder counterpart. “Math has never been your strength kanna, please just take Alg 2 there’s no reason to take trig.” Yet I was adamant about taking the advanced version.
It was an awful year, I struggled in math every single day. The numbers would get jumbled up in my head, I just could not understand what was happening. By the time I understood one topic the class had moved 2 topics ahead. I was consistently stressed, consistently angry and I hated walking into math class.
That semester I got a C in math and I was so disappointed in myself. A C? How did I even get to that point?
In December I went to Elite Test prep to take an ACT diagnostic test. After my test, I met with the Elite counselor to go over my results. As the counselor looked over my transcript and scores he frowned. “A C in math?” he asked and I nodded as my parents looked at me. He stared at me for a moment and then said “One more C and you can kiss the top 6 UC’s goodbye.” This moment has literally been burned into my memory.
The next semester I did my absolute best to get my math grade up. I was at a decent B the whole semester (which took a LOT of work for me!) and as the end of the semester approached my grade was at an 81. I was confident going into the final that I would be fine. I’ll never forget when I opened school loop and saw that C in the gradebook. My heart dropped to my toes.
I had gotten another C in math.
I remember curling up in a ball and sobbing. I had just kissed the top 6 UCs goodbye. No good college would accept me now. 2 Cs back to back! I was so screwed. I cried for almost two hours, not only because I had gotten another C, but because the grade didn’t accurately reflect the amount of work I had put in that semester. All anyone would see is the C, not the amount of time and energy I had spent working at it.
For the rest of my high school career, these grades were my greatest shame. I barely told anyone.
Now, as a second semester senior who has gotten into college, I look back at that experience and shake my head. My life was NOT ruined, I was NOT stupid, and I would be perfectly fine. I’ve gotten accepted into PLENTY of good schools including UC Santa Barbara (#4) AND UC Davis (#5) WHICH ARE BOTH HIGHLY RANKED UCs.
I wish I could go back in time, hold 15 year old me’s hand and tell her that she would be just fine in life. She would get into wonderful schools and study something that she loves. Failing was NOT something to be ashamed about but a life experience that she would grow and learn from. She is resilient, she is hard working, and she is determined. She would study her butt off to ace the ACT, she would win big in FBLA and she would have a well rounded college application that she would be proud of.
EVERYONE (including that awful elite counselor) that told me that my stats and I weren’t good enough can kiss my ass. I am going exactly where I want to go and I’m happy. The woman I am today is someone my younger self would’ve admired, but never imagined they’d be and THAT is my biggest accomplishment. I know 15 year old me would be proud of the human I am and the places I’m going.
Your failures DONT define you, they make you stronger and more resilient. Please be kind to yourself and NEVER EVER TAKE SHIT from ANYONE. The statistics DONT define YOU, what these college counselors say DOESNT define YOU, the only thing that defines you is YOU. IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN YOURSELF NO ONE ELSE WILL. It is okay to fail, it’s okay to not be good at something, it doesn’t make you any less capable or worthy.
This is all from my personal experience in high school, I know if I had heard this as a sophomore I would’ve probably felt better about my life.