Q:what's the worst grade you ever got in school? what happened?
I failed a handful of courses in my first year of engineering (and in the first time through the second year) with marks in the mid to late 40 percents.
The issue for me was that I had come from a high school with a number of intelligent students, of which I was near the top of the pile. I didn’t need to study a whole lot to get great marks.
The entrance average for my year in engineering at the University of Toronto was 92%. Everyone was in the same position as myself. They were all the best and brightest. I hadn’t really realized of just how little use my usual studying habits were going to be. I understood the material fairly well, but I soon found that engineering professors are sick and twisted individuals, extrapolating the most complex exam questions possible from material that did not seem like it could produce quite so much difficulty.
I failed a few courses and had to retake some. After first semester of second year, I was suspended for 8 months on academic probation. It was a stressful time for me. Money was running short and for reasons I will not go into I could not move back home. Near the beginning of retaking second year, I sought psychiatric help for what I thought was depression. As it turned out, it was simply a natural reaction to stress, borne from the nasty cycle I had gotten myself into with respect to getting work done (or not, as the case may be). It was at this time I was diagnosed with ADHD, began a course of treatment that involved both counselling, medication and some special considerations for taking exams.
From nearly failing out completely, I brought up my GPA up by quite a bit, and was later admitted to graduate school. I feel a legitimately-warranted flush of pride every time I remember that.
33. Persistence can turn a failure into a success.
I nearly failed out of undergrad a couple years before I got into graduate school. I didn’t get into a thesis program, so I strove to impress professors I wanted as supervisors by taking coursework only, and had one by second semester. Not everything that seems hopeless should be given up on.
Whenever things get to be too much, I always develop this immediate and pressing need to go home.
The only problem is, I don’t really have one. Not in the sense my mind needs.
For many reasons I won’t go into at the moment, I hadn’t felt at home in my parents’ house since about the age of 9.
Since then, I’ve been wandering. I used to be able to partially satiate this need with close friends or girlfriends, until I realized that I was just suppressing it. I was distracting myself. Until Maggie (and to a lesser extend, my best friend Jessica), I didn’t really have anyone whose presence gave me any actual relief.
When I tell my problems to Maggie, it’s often like they seem trivial once they’re out of my mouth in comparison to what I’ve got going for me. They’re still pressing, but I have that seed of belief that I can deal with it.
Though, truth be told, the Maggie-effect doesn’t always work. Sometimes, when I’ve sold myself short, or let something slip that I should have grabbed onto, I find myself unable to tell her. I feel guilty that I’ve gotten myself into a position I know I had a choice in, but ended up with because I made an obviously stupid choice or, worse yet, I didn’t decide and ended up there by default.
I can’t look at her when she asks me “what’s up” in those situations. As much as she knows that the Jeremy capable of getting into that predicament is the Jeremy she married, I know without thinking that she also married the Jeremy that is capable of never having to end up there to begin with.
I can’t avert her look forever, though. Once I’m caught, looking at her reminds me, simultaneously, of the best that I am and the worst that I am. It fills my head with a cognitive dissonance that sickens me. The distance between these two extremes is nigh unfathomable. How someone capable of the great things I like to think I am can let himself get so far behind is upsetting, to say the least. It can be a worse feeling than failing alone.
In the course of this downward turn, I’m yet reminded that there’s still tomorrow. One thing may end, but there is no end to more beginnings. I remember that there’s nothing that can’t be fixed, patched or made up for with perseverance. Effort won’t kill you.
Though, sometimes you wish it would.