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Small handwriting sample of Ashley's First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page

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24 October 2005

“The road to success is not straight.
There is a curve called Failure,
A loop called Confusion,
Speed bumps called Friends,
Red lights called Enemies,
Caution lights called Family.
You will have flats called Jobs.
But, if you have a spare called Determination,
An engine called Perseverance,
Insurance called Faith,
A driver called Jesus,
You will make it to a place called Success.”

Inspired by Philippians 4:13 which states,
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“So many tests…Tribulations come with being the best.”
-T.I. [King of the South] from “Prayin’ for Help”

I was sitting in my critical thinking class and my professor called on me. I was off in space somewhere and I didn’t know how to answer. Eventually she answered the question for me. After class she asked me if anything was bothering me because clearly a lot was clouding my mind. If only people could read it! This is funny because my friend Tara, who is also in the class, asked the same question. Apparently I looked “down.” I told my professor the exact thing that has been bugging me. I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this, but right now it’s the most frustrating part of college.

Grades and GPA: Getting Over That B-Hump

I set a high standard for myself before coming to college, and trying to meet that goal has been the most challenging part of attending school. I study, I read and I take great notes. I summarize and I digest all information, but when I get my papers back I’m so disappointed. I know that I’m not the best test-taker in the world. OK, let me scratch that. I’m not a good test-taker at all. However, I put so much into my work, just trying to get things done and joining study groups, and then I still come up with the short end of the stick.

One class in particular that has me singing the blues is philosophy. Now to some, philosophy is a very interesting course. I’m not saying that it’s not interesting, but it’s one of those classes where the books have to be read three and four times to even understand. The crazy thing is I love to read! Anyway, since it is midterm season, I was prepping for the philosophy midterm. I was reading in the library, and I applied my wisdom in TWO study groups. I felt so prepared and I was confident that I was going to do well.

The next morning I had two doughnuts and an orange juice, and I had a fresh start to class. The temperature was just right and I was playing Kirk Franklin’s, “He’ll Take the Pain Away.” Once I stepped inside the classroom, not surprisingly, all the seats filled very quickly. Usually, no one really shows up to the class operated by a microphone, large screens and chairs that seat about 400. However, today was test day.

I quickly found a seat next to my good friend Shun. I received my test and I began. I’m confident throughout the test and then all of a sudden I get smacked with some information that looks like German. I didn’t know what it was and where it came from. Overall I thought I did fairly well. I mean, I grasped all of the concepts so I felt like I deserved at least an A. C’mon, I did so much work. Once I turned in my test, I put on Kirk Franklin’s “The Storm Is Over Now,” and I kept hearing the lyrics repeating in my head:

“I feel like I can make it; the storm is over now.”

Later that day, the grades were posted online and I was pretty nervous, but confident about my grade. However, once I looked at it, I felt that I let myself down. I made a B- and I was really aiming toward at least an A-. It was really difficult to face the reality that my goal of a 4.0 GPA was slowly but surely drifting into the sunset, waving at me and telling me that they are going to make some else happy.

The worst feeling in the world was hearing other people say, “Oh, that was easy. I made a 98. I made a 102.” That’s the hardest thing to deal with, but I do have to understand that some people here can grasp things faster than others and that there is not necessarily something wrong with me. I think there are students like me who really want the best and feel discouraged when they don’t perform the way they want to. I know that on my journals profile page it says that I have this fear of failure, but I never realized until now how failure molds people into the successes that they are.

So right now I’m encouraged to not feel discouraged. All I can do is to continue to work, keep my faith and continue to talk with my professor and teaching assistants.

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