One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten came from my family friend who works at West Point. He told me, that at the highest caliber of anything, there will be people who have never experienced failure. People who were the valedictorians of their high school class, people who had .400 batting averages while also leading their debate teams to state championships. He went on to say however, that experiencing failure in one form or another is inevitable. The real mark of character is how someone responds to their first experience of failure. Whether they simply crumble, or how they use that to move on and grow. Hopkins Interactive readers… I failed. Literally. This past semester I struggled academically all across the board. I’ve had some family things that took up a lot of my attention, I probably took on too many commitments, and I simply didn’t work hard enough. So I failed a class. That’s right, until I retake it next spring semester there will be a big, fat, F sitting on my transcript.
I think the worst part of first seeing that F on ISIS wasn’t the disappointment I felt with myself. I knew all the resources that were present to help me succeed, and I didn’t take full advantage of them. But that wasn’t what really killed me. I was embarrassed more than anything. Hopkins can sometimes be a high pressure environment, in large part, because every student here places a lot of pressure on themselves. In many ways that’s a huge positive. You have a self-motivated student body, students who genuinely want to make create change and work hard to do so. But, when you’re surrounded by peers who are doing cancer research while also dominating the club soccer scene in between clarinet recitals, any failure can make you feel as if you don’t belong. So I was embarrassed, and worried. Embarrassed that it seemed like I was the only one of my friends to have a setback like that. Worried, that maybe, just maybe, Hopkins wasn’t the place for me. That despite everything I’d done in high-school, despite everything I’d done first semester, despite how much I loved being here, I wasn’t smart enough. Hopkins was too much for me and I was out of my league.
I didn’t really tell many people at first. I spoke to my parents about it, my girlfriend, and a few other close friends. I wanted to hide my embarrassment, hide the shame I felt. After talking with everyone and giving it a few days, I came around to a slightly different attitude. I wasn’t the only one to have failed a class at Hopkins, as it turned out. In fact some of the people who I considered most successful at school had failed or really struggled with one class along their academic career. If they were struggling, and could turn it around to achieve success, so could I. I realized that I had to pick myself up out of feeling like I didn’t belong. I knew that Hopkins was the place where I wanted to spend my college years ever since I had found Hopkins Interactive my sophomore year of high school. It was the place that made my family burst into tears when we found out I was accepted. It was the place I had met people who in one short year had already served as huge influences on my growth as an individual. If Hopkins wasn’t the right academic environment for me, fine, I would deal with that. But struggling with one class, one semester of school, wouldn’t determine that for me. I decided to pick myself up, recharge over the summer, and give my everything this coming school year. I’m going to take advantage of all the support I neglected, and not let this failure define me. Rather, I would take a lesson from it, grow, and move on.
I have never failed any other class before this one, but in a way, I’m almost happy I did. As JHU_Noah told me, while it sucks now, this will be the event that I look back on in twenty years as one of the defining moments that motivated me towards success. It can be hard, not succeeding 100 percent in the academic environment of Hopkins or any other high caliber institution. But then again, I wouldn’t want to test/prove myself anywhere other than at the highest level, and that’s what I plan to do. Wish me luck!