Chapter Eleven: The Beauty of Failure
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing,
but in rising up every time we fail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Failure. It's nothing new to anyone, especially me. More times than I can ever count, I have failed at something. But that's bound to happen, right? I know for sure there are many things I'm not good at that I will probably always fail at, and that's not me being negative, it's me being realistic. Like, I will probably always fail at peeing like a man. That's just how it is. I will probably always fail at being not socially awkward. Failure is defined of literally the opposite of success. But to me, it's part of success. Trying and failing over and over is what makes the success that much sweeter once you find it. Failure isn't means to an end, and it's not permanent; what's permanent is not trying in the first place because you're afraid to fail. The most important part of failure is how to overcome it.
In high school, we had to take certain classes and have a certain amount of science credits. Guess how much I like science? You're right, not at all. I loathe science. Never got higher than a C+ in any science class throughout my high school career. I've found it to be exceptionally harder to put in any effort to a subject I don't enjoy learning. Writing, art, and lunch were my strong suits. Math was okay sometimes too. But science? I wanted to kill someone when I was in those classes.
Freshman year, I had to take physical science with Mr. Thomas. It was a double block period (over 90 minutes). I honestly wanted to drop out of high school just because of that. On top of that, nobody in my class took it seriously, so it was really hard for me to, either. We did fun things sometimes like building cars and trebuchets and stuff and making silly putty or whatever, but most of the time my teacher was totally boring and just talked the whole time about nothing interesting, or we would just watch Bill Nye tapes the entire time. A lot of people in the class just liked to putz around and mess with our teacher, because he was kind of weird. It was a pretty easy class, though, so I just scraped through with C's.
Sophomore year was biology with Mr. Fernando. Half the time the man was not speaking English, he had a really thick accent, and he was speaking in biology terms, so I wouldn't be able to understand what he was saying anyways. I had pretty much the same crew from freshman year in that class. We were always messing with Mr. Fernando. I feel bad now, because he was a pretty nice guy. But he pretty much just let us do whatever and talked through it anyways. Except after a while he got really annoyed with us and gave us assigned seats. I always just copied people's work and still managed to get only C's.
Junior year was the hardest of all. I took Chemistry, and I H A T E D it. So much. Plus I had it so early in the morning and it made me want to cry. The first quarter I did okay. But as time went on my grade got worse and worse. I kept getting D's and F's on every single test I took and never did the homework because it was always so hard. My teacher was very strict and an "absolutely no bullshit" kind of guy. He saw that I wasn't really trying and so he didn't like me very much. Actually, I'm pretty sure he hated me. He kept telling me that I needed to try harder, and I hated him back because I don't like being told what to do. When we would be doing group projects he would walk around and keep a close eye on me. I kind of felt like I was in prison. Then, after the third quarter he wanted to talk to me. He told me I was absolutely not going to pass this class if I didn't start trying, "Like, LAST MONTH." And my parents were pissed at me because I'd never failed a class before and I sure as hell wasn't going to start now. They forced me to ask him what I could do to bring my grade up. I'm pretty sure his exact words were "Um, how about all the F*#$@ homework you blew off?!" So he gave me a printout of all the assignments from the quarter with all the ones I'd missed highlighted like crazy. I have to admit, it was very, very long. I took my big-ass chemistry textbook home, and for an entire weekend I had my nose in it, doing all the homework assignments I missed. I was online, googling all the answers to the take-home quizzes (sorry, Mr. Fraser). I turned in a fat stack of assignments. Then he started to put them all into the computer and I saw my grade slowly rise up. I tried harder in class. Mr. Fraser called me a dumbass less times a day. Things were looking up. I passed the class with I'm pretty sure a D+. And he hated me less. Now that I'm looking back, he was actually one of my favorite teachers. I still see him from time to time, and he's nothing but kind to me now, which is weird as hell. This one's for you, Mr. Fraser. Thanks for being such a hard ass, man.
Senior year was physics. It was less that I sucked at it or that it was hard, and more that I just didn't care anymore because I was a senior and I was almost done. Plus it was my first period class, and I was pretty pissed that I had a first period class. Sometimes I was really late or just didn't show up and my teacher got super annoyed with me. And I was one of only three seniors in the class, so it made me really self conscious. I felt dumb. Depending on what we were studying that day or week, I usually did okay with tests and quizzes. But homework was another thing. I always had something better to do; I couldn't be bothered with any homework for any class. The truth is, I had a free period and lunch one after the other, so I was pretty much just sitting in the cafeteria for an hour and a half every single day with my friends talking and painting my nails and drawing instead of doing my homework, because I had a bad case of senioritis. It wasn't even a bad class, now that I think about it. We even went to an amusement park for a field trip and all we had to do was describe the rides in physics terms, or whatever. I just couldn't get behind the whole science thing. So I almost failed that class...I got very close. But when my teacher approached me and offered to give me some extra credit assignments, I was saved once again. I completed all the homework I had missed that quarter, and then worked on the assignments that he gave me for extra credit and ended up with a C. Thanks science!
School has never been something I was passionate about. I failed many tests, many quizzes, projects, and homework assignments, but never failed a class. I could've just given up, but always decided at the exact last possible moment to try to make up for my failures. But that's exactly the point: at least I tried. Because the only way you can really fail is if you never try or give up trying. Those are just a few things I didn't have very much success in. Now that it's been 4 years since I graduated, I'm laughing about this, remembering how stupid and careless I was. I could've done so much better. But, you live and you learn.