Finding Opportunities for Self-improvement in Failure

The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

My junior year of high school, I took Honors Biology. Although I expected to do well, as I had always had a knack for science, I immediately fell flat on my face. At the midterm, I distinctly remember looking at my grades and seeing a 74. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach; I absolutely could not believe what I was seeing. The next day I met with my biology teacher to talk about switching out of honors biology and into regular biology. Thankfully, my teacher gave me the reality check I needed. Instead of letting me take the easy way out and switch into a class that I could succeed in with minimal effort he told me that the reason I was not doing well in his class was not because I didn’t have the ability, it was because I was not putting in consistent effort and completing my work. This was something I desperately needed to hear, as to that point I had been coasting in many of my classes. I wasn’t doing all my homework or studying hard, and was generally letting myself give much less than my best. But at that moment, talking to my teacher after receiving a 74, I decided that something needed to change. I buckled down and by the end of the term I had pulled my grade up to a solid B. However, I knew that if I maintained that effort I could do even better in the next term. I kept up my effort and in the spring semester I earned an A in honors biology. I am so thankful that my teacher refused to allow me to run away from the problem I had created, as it taught me that if I worked hard instead of trying to exert the minimum effort I needed to get by I would be successful. That moment of pure and utter failure, staring at the 74 on my transcript drove me, with an assist from my teacher, to become the student and man I am today. If it were not for the failure I experienced in honors biology I would never have pushed myself to take on and conquer challenges in every aspect of my life. I have demanded a lot of myself my senior year by taking a challenging schedule while also playing three varsity sports. I cannot afford to give anything but my best in any aspect of my life, as I face challenges that demand my best effort both in the classroom and on the field. I am proud to say that I am no longer someone who simply coasts and takes the easy way out, and although seeing that 74 on my transcript made my heart skip a beat I am thankful that this failure triggered the change I desperately needed. That moment of failure, and more importantly the lessons I took from it, made me the student, athlete and man I am today, and I could not be prouder of what it has helped me become. However, I am by no means a finished product. Although I have improved a lot over the last year, there is still a lot of work to do. I would like to continue my self-improvement and be in a position next year where I can say I made the same level of improvement as I did this year. I have come a long way, and I can’t wait to go even further in the right direction this coming year.

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