Growing up, being smart was a large part of my identity. I never had to try too hard, but I always made it into the hardest classes. I was consistently ahead of the curriculum and posed as a model student. I never studied, and I still managed to graduate with a high honors diploma. I was smart, and everyone knew it.After I graduated high school, I was excited and ready for the college experience. I had all sorts of plans and ideas about how I’d spend my time. I was excited to have a schedule where I didn’t have eight full hours of class. My first few weeks were so much fun; I made so many friends, and I was excited to be on my own. I loved being able to hang out with my friends all day, every day. I never had to be alone.
After a couple of months, I noticed my grades had slipped into a place I’d never seen before. I started to dread going to the classes I was once so excited to attend. After a while, I couldn’t bring myself to go at all. I would miss class and convince myself that it was okay because I needed a mental day. When I did attend class, I was so far behind on the information that I wasn’t able to understand new information.
I had dug myself into a hole so deep that I didn’t know how to crawl my way out. I tried to catch up on my work, but I was lost and overwhelmed. I tried asking other classmates for help, but even their explanations didn’t make sense to me. At this point, I started to believe that I was not smart enough for college. I felt that I had tried everything and I was making no progress. I lost any confidence I had in my intelligence, and this was clear to anyone who came in contact with me.
When the second semester started, I had to have some tough conversations. After the first semester, I was no longer eligible to play softball due to my GPA. This was particularly hard for me because the only other thing I based my identity on was softball.
Although I had given up on myself, my coach and my teammates hadn’t. My coach, Luke Wagner, planned meetings once a week to help keep me on track and help wherever he could. This largely kept me accountable and forced me to keep track of upcoming assignments. He also set me up with an academic coach in the Academic Success Center, Jesse Loewen.
Jesse and I met once a week for the entire spring semester. Many of our meetings consisted of discussing strategies that would benefit me the most. Often, I knew exactly what I needed, but I had no confidence that I was able to make the right decision. I needed someone to tell me I was doing the right thing, and Jesse was always the first to encourage me. After failing for so long, the one thing I needed to hear was that someone noticed my hard work and encouraged me to keep going.
Coming into my second year, I was motivated. I was ready to focus, and I was sure that nothing could go wrong this time. After three weeks, I met with my coach. We discussed the threshold GPA for eligibility and realized that I still hadn’t made it. I was crushed. Even though I had made so much progress, it wasn’t enough, and it cost me my scholarship. In the following weeks, I had to decide whether I wanted to stay at Goshen or transfer somewhere else since I was no longer playing softball.
As I thought about the past year, I remembered all the people who supported me along the way, and I decided that I didn’t want to go anywhere. I felt that I would be letting down so many people who had believed in me, and most importantly, giving up on myself.
I refused to give up, and I know I made the right choice.
Since then, I have learned so much about myself. I learned how to work effectively as a person with ADHD. I learned how and when to ask for help. I learned to engage and ask questions in class. I regained my confidence and learned to communicate. I realized that the common denominator in my failure was myself, and I refused to ever get in the way of my own success again.
Although I still have a long way to go, I am proud of the progress I’ve made and the things I’ve learned along the way. If I could redo my entire experience, I wouldn’t change anything because I have grown from my failure so much that I am grateful for the challenges.