Thursday, October 21, 2010

It'll Take More Than Just A Breeze To Make Me Fall Overboard

Song: Overboard by Ingrid Michaelson

Once upon a time there was a girl. This girl never really liked Math. And usually she tried to be open to things and give them a second chance. But it seemed as though Math had taken it too far. For one, Math is the only subject she ever got an A- in during high school. And that was not a pleasant experience. Second, there is Math homework almost every night except the days that you take tests, and those always seem to be rough days even without the homework. The list of reasons for this girl's distaste could go on and on. But i'll narrate one specific bad experience and two good. Saving the good for last :)

This girl had always done well in school. She wasn't one of those super geniuses who you KNOW have computers for brains. She had to work really, really hardat it. But she was determined and gave the full effort and the results made it worth it. Anyways, this girl kept up a 4.0 until the 2nd quarter of her junior year. She was taking concurrent enrollment Math 1050, which is the equivalent of Pre-Calc A. Throughout the whole semester, she had done extremely well. She turned in all of her assignments on time, paid attention in class, and even did the review assignments now and then before chapter tests. This class seemed to go as all her other past classes had gone. Until November came.

Weird things started to happen when teacher began talking about preparing for the Final Exam that would be given right after Christmas Break. Thegirl thought that it would be no big deal, just like the trillions of tests she had taken before. But then the teacher started talking about how it was worth 30% of the final grade and how it would be on your permanent college transcript and something new happened to the girl. She got nervous. And the nerves wouldn't go away. The exam was a month and half away and she already had a bad feeling about it. Well the nerves started to creep into other things. Shots wouldn't fall during Basketball practice. She got bad quiz scores in other classes. Heck, she even tanked a chapter test in Math that she had done extra studying for. These things were definitely out of the ordinary for this girl. So right before Christmas Break she talked to her teacher and he gave the girl a few extra practice exams to get her more prepared. Unlike most kids, she didn't throw her backpack into a dark corner to rot until January 2nd when school started again. She poured her little brains out onto those practice tests. And even when she was working on roofs in Mexico for the last week of the break she was constantly thinking about math problems and wondering if she was really prepared for the exam or not.

During one of the many truck rides while she was in Mexico, a thought came to her. Would it really matter if she did poorly on the test? That meant a bad grade in the class. Did it really matter if she got a bad grade in that class? That would mean the end of her 4.0 GPA that she had worked so hard for. Did it really matter if she didn't have a 4.0? It meant...what did it really mean? She realized that she was afraid that it would mean she wasn't perfect. And once she thought of it like that, she realized something else. She already knew she wasn't perfect. She already knew that there were more important things than being the best at everything. She realized that success doesn't come from always being at the top of the list. It came from trying. And remembering what things actually mattered. Like focusing on the people that she was serving down in TJ. Or making memories with her family and new friends while they were together. Or just plain trying to be a good person.

Because of all these realizations, she knew that she needed to stop worrying because things would work out how they were supposed to work out whether she was losing sleep over it or not. So for the rest of the week, she just relaxed. And when she got back to school, she honestly knew in her heart that the past week had taught her more than all the math classes she had ever taken. And even though colleges like to focus more on GPA's and ACT's than life changing thought processes and experiences, she was certain that she would rather have the knowledge gained during that week than all the semesters of college that a 4.0 GPA could buy.

So she went into the test knowing that the result of the letters circled and the numbers scribbled in the answer box really weren't that important. Not to say she didn't try her hardest, because she really truly did. Just because it wasn't the most important thing to her anymore didn't mean that keeping a 4.0 wouldn't be nice. Nevertheless, she bombed it. Not just didn't-get-an-A-like-normal. Serious bombage up in there. Like a D+ or something like that. And that was enough to drop her grade from an A to an A-, effectively ending her 4.0 streak. And it was hard on her. She still was more than a little sad to see it go. Even now when she is looking at Index Score matrices as she is applying to college, she still feels a little pang when her finger has to go down the 3.9 column. (Luckily, it still gets to meet up with the 30 ACT row). But she was able to get over it. And it was a learning experience from which she became better, not bitter. And without the experience in Mexico, she wouldn't be able to say that.

Well, that was a lot longer than I meant it to be, so i'll try to sum up the next one for her. That whole experience was with Math 1050. Next semester brought Math 1060 AKA Trigonometry. Armed with her new attitude towards school, the Force chapters covered in her Physics class and the fact that Softball was a lot less pressure than Basketball, the girl did extremely well in 1060. So well that she felt confident enough to make a deal with her mom. If the girl got an A on the Final for 1060, the mom had to take the girl out for Sushi :) Well...

That was a good day :)

And today wasn't half bad either. Even though it wasn't a final exam, it still felt really good when she looked at her AP Statistics grade online and saw that she got 84 out of 80 on the last test she took. It was probably only the second time in her life that something math-related made her smile.

Well, I guess that wasn't all about Math. But you get the point. There are some valuable lessons to be learned from Math class. Its just that they rarely come from the textbook :)

"I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday."

1 comment:

  1. Actually this experience would make a great college application essay. So, you're A- might actually come in handy after all.
    Isn't it amazing what comes from the hard times?