Last week, I concluded my first midterms as a university student and did not do as well as I expected. Not even close.
Flashback to two weeks ago when we had the thanksgiving break. I decided to sacrifice going home to visit family and friends for staying all alone more or less in residence here at Western to study for the upcoming midterms. I was dwelling on my high school philosophy of “As long as you study for it, you’d do well in it”. Bad Idea.
Prior to this, I hadn’t really cared much for my academics. Sure I did assignments, sure I went to classes and talked to professors once in a while, but I was lacking in the knowledge of one fundamental thing— I was no longer in High school and professors in university were not paid to spoon-feed me. My high school had taught me to be dependent on teachers for marks. Now I’m not saying that all high schools are the same, but in my case and in the case of so many other First Years here at Western that I have conversed with, this seemed to be a universal problem.
In High school, I would argue for the marks that I felt I deserved. I would plead with my teachers to let me write make-up tests whenever I didn’t do as well as I hoped, and complain to them when exam questions went beyond material covered in class. I was basically teacher-dependent for my grades and thought I would be able to carry this lavish lifestyle with me into university.
I remember how I felt after writing my Calculus exam, my very first midterm here at Western. I walked into the exam room dripping with overconfidence and faith in my preparation. I walked out the exact opposite. The exam had been a huge deviation from what I was used to in high school. It was based on the little things that were asked of us to research on (not compulsorily) during the length of the semester; the little things I had so comfortably taken for granted.
I walked back to my room and sobbed with regret of my under preparation. I was going to get a 60, or maybe even a 50 and for this reason, I was filled with sadness. It was one of the most painful things seeing how hard I had prepared.
After much hesitation, I decided to call my Dad to let him know of my shortcoming in this one midterm that I had had so much confidence in. I told him that I was sorry and that I didn’t know where I went wrong and that I didn’t even know if university were for me. I had expected him to be disappointed at me for saying this but his reply was one of the kindest and truest words he had ever said to me.
He told me about fear and how it ruins things for people. Fear of losing, fear of being inadequate, fear of change. He said that the road to success had just become narrower for me and that the only thing I could do at this point was to move forward and not let these bad marks define me. it was at that point that I realized that I was the master of my destiny, and that marks would not define who I was if i didn’t give them the power. I was going to stand up and keep moving regardless of how foggy the road ahead looked and I certainly wasn’t going to let this one midterm take a huge toll on me.
So if you’re reading this and didn’t do so well in your midterms I urge you to push forward. Make appropriate changes to your study habits and never be completely demotivated whenever things go sour in your midterms because regardless of how humongous the bruises of the exams may have been, you can stand and you can move and that is all that matters. Never let your marks define you.