Learning life lessons from unexpected sources
When I sit down to write a column, I usually have an idea in mind. On the weeks where I'm fresh out of ideas, I try to think of something that I would want to hear. This week, I'm not sure what to write about.
I think I need a reminder about self-confidence today.
In general, I would consider myself a somewhat confident person. Not necessarily with who I am as a person, but more often with my abilities.
In recent times, my faltering confidence takes root in my schoolwork. When studying for tests, I go over old homework assignments and go through review material. For my harder classes, I sometimes study for one or two hours.
My biggest source of frustration comes from getting the test scores back. A perfect example happened just a few weeks ago. After putting in lots of time to study, I didn't get the grade I wanted.
Immediately I was upset. A few dumb mistakes on problems that I had practiced dozens of times made me doubt my abilities. I wasn't seeing the success I wanted after all of the time I had put in.
During the next class period, I stayed fairly quiet. A nice change of pace for the people around me, I'm sure, but a sign of resignation from me. That Friday, I sat quietly and looked over my paper with marks on it, listening to my super-smart friends talk about the quiz they aced without opening the textbook once.
I was happy my friends did well, but I was upset with myself for not being more like them.
I left class that day throwing my hands in the air (metaphorically, of course). I didn't want to do my homework; in my mind, it made no difference if I did it or not - the end result would be the same.
I would inevitably still get a grade that I didn't like, and everyone else would get a perfect score.
When I came back to school on Monday, I decided to stay after class and try to study some more — after all, what did I have to lose?
I walked in and sat down quietly, opening my binder and pulling out my review paper.
"Are you still grumpy about that quiz?" my teacher asked. I was taken aback at first — I didn't think anyone had really noticed that I was quiet on Friday.
I proceeded to say that I was angry with myself for not doing as well as my peers, even though I put in the time to study.
The look I got back was one I'm very familiar with. The "why are you still comparing yourself to other people" stare that I've gotten maybe a dozen times from my teacher.
After a short (but good) lecture about having more confidence in myself, I got back to studying.
The next day, I aced my quiz. Seeing the perfect score on my paper was one of the prouder moments of my high school career.
Tomorrow, I have another quiz. Hopefully this perfect score trend continues. If it doesn't though, I've got the "have more confidence" stare imprinted on my brain.
The next time you start to compare yourself to someone else, I'll lend you that look. It did the trick for me last time.
Alyson Johnston is a senior at Wilsonville High School.
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