It’s way past midnight. I’m chugging my third cup of coffee, cramming for a test I should have started studying for weeks ago. My grades are slipping, and I’m one failed test away from a complete mental breakdown. Growing up I was in competitive academic programs, graduating high school with honors. If I was considered so smart back then, why am I struggling so hard now?
The problem with enlisting kids in a program that tells them they are more intelligent than the rest is that it becomes crippling when they can’t live up to the standards that they set for themselves. You end up not knowing how to properly study because when you were in grade school, memorizing things came easy to you. Now as an adult, you aren’t prepared, and you have overwhelming anxiety when you can’t live up to your own expectations.
I am here to say, it’s okay to fail.
What do Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, and JK Rowling have in common? They are just a few of the many entrepreneurs, geniuses, artists, and scientists who have failed. They fell down, picked themselves up, and kept moving forward. Failure is a catalyst for growth that no one is sure how to deal with. Though a bad grade right now might feel like the end of your career before it even begins, in ten years, it won’t even matter.
Intelligence is more than just a mark on a test. A test can’t measure your hard work and passion. Maybe your intellect isn’t academic. Just because you can’t do calculus or understand biology, it doesn’t mean you aren’t intelligent. Intelligence comes in many forms.
Van Gogh’s intellect differs from Marie Curie’s. Steven King’s intellect differs from The Beatles’. Emily Dickinson’s intellect differs from Serena Williams’. All of these people have incredible knowledge about their passions. All are geniuses in their own elements, and none are the same what-so-ever.
I’m not saying give up on a class you have no interest in and let your grades slip into oblivion. I’m saying you aren’t going to be good at everything, and that’s okay. Find your passions, and pursue them wholeheartedly, and when you do fail, have the courage to look failure straight in the eye and say “I’m not giving up, and you do not define me.”
Image via Celina Timmerman