I don’t think I’ve experienced a more emotionally and mentally taxing finals week, than I did this year.
I fought every single day of this semester to do well in my classes.
I would get up at 7AM, three days a week, to study for an hour and a half. Then at 8:30AM, I would meet with one of my professors since my schedule didn’t work with his office hours.
I reached out to multiple people on how I could understand Physics (I still don’t). I pushed myself to fall asleep at 11PM every night (sacrificing what little time was left to properly socialize) so I could wake up early the next day.
I went to executive board meetings and took care of my responsibilities for all of my leadership positions, and I did my absolute best to help my fellow suffering engineering friends with whatever I could.
And the night before my last final, after several defeating final exam experiences, I found myself sobbing in the middle of my textbook, begging myself to study for just two more hours. I felt overwhelmed and defeated and uncertain. I took some time to cry, time that felt stolen, before I went back to studying.
The next day I took my final and when I walked out, the triumphant feeling was missing.
I wish that the sentences that follow this one were filled with hope and had an inspiring message, but here is the truth: I am tired.
I fought tooth and nail to make it through this semester. I have suffered and cried and pushed and cried some more. I did my absolute best to do well. I even took a final exam that was optional, just to make sure I took every available opportunity. This isn’t the say that I didn’t do well. I don’t know what my final grades are, but I don’t believe they will be devastating. However, they may not be what I had hoped they would be.
Here’s what I want you to take away from this: Sometimes you will try your best, and it won’t be enough. Sometimes you will sacrifice some “chill time” in order to study a little bit more and still not be able to answer a question on an exam. It happens. It’s okay to feel defeated. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay. Tomorrow, you can try again. Tomorrow, is a new chance to complete the things you’ve started.
If today you could not do what you set out to do, at least you tried. At least you gave it your best. In life, you will often find that that is the most we can do.
Keep on keepin’ on, my people. We must push to get uphill, but the top of the mountain is where it is most beautiful.
Merriam Webster Dictionary.
What do these four things have in common?
You can find definitions in each of them. Definitions for theories, concepts, words, and so on, they can be found in at least one of the three sources I mentioned.
So where are you defined and who or, what, defines you?
For a generous part of my life, my academics defined me. My 3.8 GPA in high school. The grades I got in college courses. The leadership roles I took on inside and outside of my school.
If I told you about myself, my school would be the first thing I said and if I could find a place to appropriately mention it, my leadership roles as well.
Truthfully, not too much has changed. I've only just realized that I placed so much emphasis on my academics that I've forgotten to tell people about who I am outside of my grades. It's something I have to work on.
Make no mistake, you should do your absolute best in your academic career. Fight for good grades, do all extra credit, meet with your teachers/professors, and study hard. But that shouldn't be all that you are, you know?
I see the aftereffects of allowing my academics to take up so much of the plate that is my self esteem. This morning (11/29) I found out I have a B in one of my fairly difficult courses, which means I can't get an A in the course.
And you know?
I felt crushed. I went to my next class feeling dejected and stupid. I wondered if I even deserved to be an engineer if I can't even get good grades and maintain a good GPA.
But...a B isn't bad. And I have a good GPA.
When you eat a meal, you don't have just bread rolls or just string beans or just meat on your plate. You have some bread, some string beans, some rolls, and mayberoom for dessert.
If your self esteem is a plate, you can't only have academics or only the opinions of others or only your financial status or only your physique. Your plate must have a little bit of everything. It's okay if it fluctuates, but be careful to not let one thing take up your entire plate. Learn to balance it.
In case you're wondering, by the end of the day, I picked myself up. My self esteem is back in check and I'm fiercely competing to still make my goals. Some days you have to pick yourself up and keep fighting.
And I will. We will.
Because our first name is Resilient. Our middle name is Excellent. And our last name is People. And we REPresent ourselves exactly as our name is. Because that is who we are.