Failure Shaped Me

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

By the end of sixth grade, I had my entire future planned out for myself. I would apply to George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology for high school, specializing in Literary Arts. During my four years at Carver, I’d expand my writing skills, and in the end I’d publish my first real work. I would go to college, graduate, become a famous author, and live a happy, successful life. Naturally, it didn’t take long for my plans to go off the rails.

The day of Carver’s entrance exam, I wasn’t nervous. Actually, I was excited. I carried my assurance of my writing abilities with me into the test. That confidence relaxed me for the interview portion and pushed me to do my best in the three writing components of the exam. I walked out of the testing center with no doubt in my mind that I’d be attending the art school. Carver was my fate, I kept telling myself. My brother went there, so it only made sense for me to follow in his footsteps. Due to that mentality, I was much more heartbroken when I discovered that I did not score high enough to gain acceptance into Carver. I spent the rest of the day in a catatonic state. My high school life, which had been so clear before, became murky and uncertain. I also began to lose faith in my writing. If my writing wasn’t good enough for my dream school, would it be good anywhere?

In the end, I enrolled into Mount de Sales Academy, a Catholic, all girl high school. I may not know what my life would’ve been like at Carver, but I do know the years I’ve spent at Mount de Sales make me look back on the rejection as a happy accident. When I looked back at the way I tied all my happiness into entering one particular school, I laughed. In my Creative Writing class, I weave fantastical stories with a newfound sense of how far my writing could go. I realized that the fun is in rewriting and pushing a story to the best work it can be. That wasn’t the last time something didn’t go my way, but it was the last time it would drag me down. I truly believe that I needed to fail at that point, to learn how to be resilient in the face of rejection. No matter where I am, my ambitions won’t change. The only thing I can do is brace myself for the twists and turns God has in store for me.

In my sophomore year, I had the chance to take the Carver entrance exam again. My parents asked me if I would go, if I got accepted. I told them I wouldn’t and I meant it. I had already learned to root my happiness in my friends, my family, and my dreams. There was nothing left for Carver to teach me.

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