Just one month into my high school career, I fell ill. I was in and out of the hospital, going to doctors' appointments, getting CT scans and MRIs, and missing days and weeks of school. Between the stress of school and the stress of my medical issues, I was far too anxious to do well on any tests or homework that I had. As hard as I tried to be a good student and perform to the standards I set for myself, I was not able to keep up with the work. As I watched my grades plummet and my GPA fall, I began feeling horrible about myself. I blamed myself for not being able to do the school work that all of my friends found to be easy. I beat myself up over every failed test, and I was beginning to feel completely helpless. I felt like I had no control over anything in my life: no control over my body and the pain it was causing me, and no control over my future because my grades were dragging me down.
Months went on and more and more doctors told me they could not figure out what was wrong with me. I could not pay attention in class anymore, and I began to disregard school altogether because I was feeling completely hopeless. I fell into a pit of depression and couldn’t crawl my way out.
I don’t know how or why exactly, but one day out of nowhere, I found a glimmer of hope left in me. I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, went online and started trying to do my homework and figure out what I had been learning in my classes. I let the actual work distract me from my health problems and my GPA. I felt determined for the first time in a while to get things done and clean up the mess I made for myself.
The more I forced myself to care about and focus on my schoolwork, the more hope I had that I could bounce back from the months of giving up on. I thought to myself: I may not be able to control what’s happening to me right now, but I better have control over my future.
I told my teachers about what had been going on with my medical issues, I began going to my teachers’ office hours after school almost everyday and I began studying more. I wanted to have control over something in my life, even if it was as small as having control over how I did on a test or homework sheet. I did not want to look back on my academic career and seeing my failures. I wanted to be able to look ahead at a bright future I created for myself.
After a bittersweet ending to my freshman year, and only having been able to bring my grades up slightly towards the end, I had the summer to recharge and prepare myself for another school year. I looked back on the mistakes I made my freshman year and refused to make them again. I made a plan for myself to do better and get better grades. I started setting goals for myself, even small ones like telling myself I wanted to get an A on a quiz.
I worked as hard as I possibly could during my sophomore, junior and senior year. I took advantage of opportunities to meet with my teachers and get extra help when I needed it. I stopped being afraid of asking for help and I started raising my hand in class to ask as well as answer questions, when before I had tried to avoid doing so. I did a lot of self-reflecting and instead of looking at things I did wrong as problems and complaining about them, I saw them as temporary issues that I could try fixing. I worked on my weak points and practiced my strengths. I focused on growth instead of accepting my current stand point, and it payed off because as I challenged myself more and more, I did better and improved my skills.
I did not end up getting a 4.0 GPA or going to an Ivy League school, and honestly, that was okay. I didn’t need a perfect GPA because instead I learned how to be resilient and learned how to work on my flaws instead of accepting them. I did end up graduating with honors and going to a school I absolutely love. My failures did not define me because they were not permanent. They were fixable and I was able to learn from them. However, my recovery did because it showed me just how resilient and determined I could be and just how well I could do if I put my mind to something, and that is priceless.
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