Many years ago, while still in college, I had an experience that taught me some valuable things about life.
At the time, going through this experience was incredibly embarrassing, but looking back on it many years later, I have a different perspective. Not only am I human, but I also learned from this mistake.
Here’s the Story
I was fresh out of high school and trying to get used to college life. I was at home and commuted to college, so I never got the experience of going away to school. There are both positives and negatives to this as with many things in life.
I was still debating on the major that I wanted to pursue, so I took many different classes to find my calling. I was drawn to several subjects including English and Journalism and I found an immense passion for Psychology. My heart and soul were wrapped around Psychology. I loved learning about others and the world around me. Through that, I also learned about myself.
I was headed to a Psychology class one day. It was a warm summer day, I sat down, and the professor started the day as usual. I got out my books and my notebook to take notes. The lecture came and went. At the end of the class, my professor handed back a graded paper that we had completed several weeks back.
I looked down at my graded paper in disbelief. There was a big red “F” staring me in the face. As I flipped through each page. I could see comments made by the professor in red. I was in shock. I had spent hours on this paper. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. Not only disappointed, but I was also confused. What did I do wrong?
My Mind was Flooded
I remember walking the long path to my car that afternoon, my thoughts stuck on why this paper that I worked so hard on received an “F.” To me, an F would mean that a student didn’t do the project at all, but somehow, I put hours into my paper and still received one.
I got to my car and pulled the paper out of my backpack. I stared it over one more time, maybe I saw the grade wrong? No…it was a very visible F with comments to boot. Some of you may know how much weight a paper holds in college and the importance of keeping your GPA at a certain point to graduate. Tears welled up in my eyes, I started crying and out of frustration I ripped my paper into large pieces. I was around the age of 19 then, that is no excuse, but I have matured a lot since then and I would never do something like this today!
I drove home feeling confused and defeated. My emotions were heavy. I remember putting the windows down and blasting my music to release the stress. My commute to college and back home was about an hour. Once I got home, I had a good meal and then decided that I needed to reach out to my professor and find out why my paper did so poorly.
Later that night, I compose an e-mail to my professor stating that I had worked really hard on my paper and that I wanted to know the reasoning behind the grade that I was given. To my surprise, she wrote back rather quickly and told me to come by the next day so that we could talk about it. I felt relieved until I read one of the lines…”Please bring your paper with you so that we can discuss it.”
My heart started racing, my professor wanted me to bring my paper with me…the one that I had just torn to shreds. I started to think of a way to get around this embarrassing situation. I quickly thought that I could just print another copy off, there we go! Then I realized that her comments were written all over it and what would we discuss?
Moments later, I realized that there wasn’t a way around this, and I got my paper together, or what was left of it, and I started taping the pieces together. It felt a bit like doing a puzzle. Fortunately, the paper looked decent enough for us to be able to look it over. To say that I was stressing about my talk with her the next day is an understatement.
The Next Day
I remember feeling incredibly nervous about my meeting with the professor. I walked in with a smirk on my face that ended up turning into a smile. Before I even brought the paper out of my bag, I informed her that out of frustration I ripped my paper, but that I taped it back together. She started to chuckle and to my surprise, she told me that I wouldn’t believe it, but that this was not the first nor second time that someone has brought a ripped paper to her before!
I was relieved at this, but still highly embarrassed. We sat down together, and she went over each section and how and why she graded it the way that she did. All of the red marks were given a great explanation. She then turned to me and asked me to share my side, she wanted to know how I arrived at the conclusion that I did. I cannot remember the question that she asked us to address because I am now in my late 30s, but I explained to her what my thought process was.
After we talked, I was surprised and happy that my professor was able to see the reasoning behind my answer and interpretation. She gave me a second chance to redo the paper in the way that she meant. I went home and worked hard on my paper, turned it in, and received a good grade! There are several life lessons that I learned from this experience.
- People will view things in life in very different ways, it does not make one right or wrong. We all have had different experiences in life and therefore we see the world very differently.
- Frustration and anger will always be present in our lives, but it is up to us to try to remain as calm as possible and address the situation at hand.
- We will all have embarrassing moments in life, we are only human, and we can take these as learning experiences.
- Sometimes in life, we are given a second chance to make things right and we should be thankful and treat it as a golden opportunity.
This incredibly embarrassing college experience really opened my eyes and reminded me of how much I have matured and how life teaches us many lessons about ourselves and the world around us.
We all will have moments that we are not proud of, but if we can learn from them and keep pressing forward, wisdom is sure to follow!