The Lion's Tale

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Focus on improvement; a single failure doesn’t matter

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Focus on improvement; a single failure doesn’t matter

photo courtesy of Freed Photography

photo courtesy of Freed Photography

photo courtesy of Freed Photography

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The first month of ninth grade World History I was a breeze. Between the endless series of Jewish holidays, the days dedicated to reviewing the syllabus and the continuous stream of school assemblies and grade advisories, the class didn’t get underway for some time. As a result, I didn’t have that many assignments; then came the first essay. 

The task didn’t seem that daunting at first. I simply had to write an essay comparing and contrasting ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia. Without really knowing how to write a thesis or to incorporate analysis, I set off to write the worst essay I’ve ever written. 

In my essay, I went on tangents about Pharaoh, made insightful comments such as “the first similarity between the two ancient civilizations was the time period in which they existed” and used far too many semicolons. But yes, at the time, I thought it was pretty good. 

So, you could imagine my shock when Mr. Atwood returned my essay and gave me a C. At the time, I handled this news the way any freshman would. I panicked. My first instinct was to drop from the advanced level (which I didn’t do). If I wasn’t earning high grades on the first assignment, how would I survive the whole year?

In ninth grade, I didn’t understand the value in this experience, that making these mistakes was critical to my growth as a student. I also didn’t understand how insignificant one bad grade would be in the long run. I’m happy to say that one low grade didn’t interfere with my ability to pass the class, graduate ninth grade or even get into college. So, those of you worrying about that now can take a sigh of relief. 

After this assignment, I went on to write many more essays. With each one, I like to think that I improved a little bit. Now, as a senior who just submitted her ISearch, I can confidently say that this long process, ripe with failures and successes, has paid off. 

So, my advice to those of you who find yourself in a similar position—whether it be a low grade, a bad basketball game or anything else that isn’t going your way—is to focus on how to improve, how to go to others for help and how to not panic. You will become better because of it and you’ll maybe make some new friends along the way. 

This story was featured in the Volume 36, Issue 4 edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on January 25, 2019.

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