At the beginning of this year, one of my best friends wished for me to fail as a new years resolution.
How heinous I thought at the time. He felt that I’ve seen too much success that I couldn’t appreciate it as much anymore; I was taking success for granted.
I shrugged off his wish; me becoming an absolute failure? That’s impossible with my track record!
Or so I thought.
My new year was the absolute worse so far. I was not completely adjusted to school life at my new university, and the engineering classes I was taking put a huge toll on me. Despite this fact, opportunities kept coming to me like mosquitoes attracted to light; I found myself taking those opportunities in addition to my current job.
It was probably one of the biggest mistakes I would ever make. One of the opportunities was another job where I would build a website for a client; however, my client lacked a sense of focus, and we would constantly be derailed doing different projects. I ended up spending way more time than I should have on this job, and I had deep emotional disgruntlement towards my client to the point that I could not talk to her on the phone without feeling bitter.
At the same time, my grades suffered on a significant margin. The current grades I had, would send me into academic probation (GPA > 2.0 for the term); going below a 3.0 is really unheard of for me, and of course I would panic. However, it was not because I would be shackled to some kind of probation, but rather, my financial aid would be on the line; I’ve been paying for my own education for years, and aid is imperative to my continued education.
There was only one option: fail one of my classes and use that time to do better in the others. It was extremely risky – there was no guarantee that I would have above a 2.0.
So, one day, I decided to stop attending one of my classes. For the first time ever, I skipped the homework, the quizzes, the midterm… it took a lot of self-courage to acknowledge that I would be failing, and actually put myself through the process of it.
I understand that some people fail because out of reasons like laziness; there is no guilt usually associated with things like that. It took me a very long time to say, “Okay, I’ve done the best I’ve could. I have to make sacrifices and re-prioritize somewhere, and realize that I can’t take all the opportunities I want to without letting go of something else.”
I spent a lot of my time re-prioritizing; I dropped the opportunities I was doing on the side in addition to work and school, and I spent a lot of time studying to ensure that my plan – if I passed all my classes with just a C average and another class with an A, I would be just above a 2.0.
It was painful, but I did manage a 2.1 in the end. Yes, it was a first for me, and after I looked at that number, I came to some realizations: grades aren’t everything in life* and understand what your priorities really are.
Did I learn? Yes. Was I able to take away something with me from the classes I studied hard for? Of course.
Because of all the turmoil this term, I’ve decided to quit my lab job in August to just spend my time in school full time. I haven’t been to school and not worked in years. My plan is to graduate faster as I’ll have complete time to focus on my studies. Then, I would be able to take any opportunity that came without fear of time commitment or grades.
In the end, I felt I failed wonderfully.
* It does matter in some cases, like high-end job positions, or even graduate school at times.
Note: I was beyond the drop date for classes, and doing a withdrawl is impossible here if you do not have “serious and compelling reasons”. My only option was failure.