Saturday, January 8, 2011

Who knew that hard work actually pays off?

Back in my sophomore year of college I took Philosophy 101, and I wasn't particularly excited about it.

It was the first time I experienced a 400 person lecture class, and instead of being overwhelmed, I was surprisingly comforted in being just another face in a sea of students. I liked the anonymity, the fact that I didn't have to worry about the professor picking me out. And more importantly, that I didn't have to prepare for a discussion. I showed up for the two hour class period, I got absorbed in the lecture and scribbling down notes, and I left. Simple.

The book, on the other hand, was not simple. It was a 900 page monstrosity that my professor insisted we bring to class every day, and right off the bat I considered myself above actually reading any of it. For the first exam, I thought I was golden. I had been familiar with some of the readings we were assigned, I never missed a class, I took notes and paid attention. And it was multiple choice!

As you might have guessed, I failed. Miserably. It was my first college F, and the first test I failed since the seventh grade in Advanced Algebra II. It was also a wake up call.

In high school I was always told that college was hard. College freshman would come back to the high school to visit old teachers, and would regal us with their knew college wisdom: the tests were hard, and now they had to study. I was half terrified, and half humored.

And then I started college and was surprised that I didn't find things to be that much different than high school. Yes, now there was more responsibility, more reading, more assignments. But I was used to studying and being dedicated. And then came Philosophy 101.

After that first test I realized that  half-assing it wasn't really working. So, I broke down and I decided to put in some honest effort. I actually read what we were assigned, recopied my notes to help me remember and make more sense of he material, and didn't wait until the last minute to review.

On the day that we received our second tests back, my professor called us in groups according to last name to the front. As I waited for my grade, I thought about what I would do if the grade was bad. Would I give up and just claim that Philosophy wasn't my thing and I was never going to get it? Could I accept that my honest best just wasn't as good as I wanted it to be?

But, I didn't get a bad grade. It turns out that I missed two questions and got an A. When my professor handed me my test he smiled and said that out of all 400 people, I had the highest grade. The feeling I had at that moment was such a rush. I loved that I had put in hard work and it had paid off.

Whenever I get discouraged I try to think back to that moment; how it felt to accomplish something that I worked so hard for. And it helps me to remember that life isn't easy, but with a little effort, a new attitude, and some hard work, there's nothing that we can't do.

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