Thursday, 12 April 2018

A Story about Determination

Photo courtesy of Alex Lloyd Photography


When I transferred universities last year, everything was beginning to look up for me. New environment, new people, new tutors...

Ah yes, I couldn't wait to experience the lecture life.

My English tutors were fantastic, and I really enjoyed the modules from the start. Philosophy, however, was a bit trickier. I took a class on something I'd been doing a lot of for the past 3 years. I was ready to know what I was doing, at least in this one module.

But things never go the way you expect them to.

Everything was fine, until it came for my turn to present. A natural showman, I was ready with my topical meme-filled powerpoint and information on something I already knew a bit about. At least, I thought I did until this presentation. What actually ended up happening was that I totally flopped and the tutor for this module took me to their office for a questioning session that lasted for an hour. Fifty minutes in, I realised I actually didn't know anything at all, felt a bit stupid, and started crying in front of them.

I had wanted to impress these new people so much, and instead I felt as though I'd lost a few brain cells in between my a-levels and my first year of university. They weren't much impressed, and questioned why I was crying. I thought it was pretty obvious, but they did not. From that day on, we never really managed to click.

It then started to go even more wrong. My confidence was knocked, and I didn't end up doing well in any of their essays (the essays are marked anonymously so they didn't know which one was mine, it wasn't personal!). Fast forward to a year later, and I'm in another of their modules, terrified that the same thing was going to happen again. I was determined to prove to them that I actually have a brain, and I was also on a bit of a mission to make them proud. I don't need their approval, but I just wanted to make our working relationship right.

Today, I received my mark from the essay they set.

I got the highest mark I've ever received on a university essay.

Looking back on the essay, I'm quite impressed with it myself. I wrote it a couple of months ago, so I didn't remember what I had written, and I thought for a moment it was someone else's essay. But it was definitely mine! The tutor marked it anonymously again, so they would not have known it was mine. They have also been praising me lately for my contributions to class discussion, which is another major breakthrough. I feel like we've come full circle.

As I'm in my final year of university, it was important for me to fix what had been broken a year before. I came into second year of this university as if it was my first, and so I had a tough job fitting in and catching up with working in the way they think is best. In my final semester, to receive a good mark from this tutor is one of my proudest university achievements. I can finally close that stressful chapter of my life, with the knowledge that I really did my best and it paid off. I didn't spend any more time on that essay than any other essay - it was just my determination to achieve my goal of writing a good essay for this tutor that was strong enough.

I usually have a moral to my stories, and this one is particularly relevant to many aspects of my own life... probably your's too. If you have the ability to fix something in your life that is broken, do it. Or at least give it a damn good go. Sometimes it won't work out, but other times it will, and you will feel so much better for trying in the first place. Even sorting out the smallest things that you think don't matter but absolutely do. One less stress in your life can't be a bad thing.

Today I'm celebrating not just my little win, but my big determination too.