Here it is, mid-October, and many young people are struggling with their first semester of college. Struggling an dare I say, panicking. The drop/add deadline has passed. Students are sure they won’t make an ‘A’ in all of their classes. They are terrified that one or two bad grades will ruin their GPA. Will ruin their career. Will ruin their lives….
Instead of destroying your health, happiness, and sanity chasing the perfect grade, I suggest you embrace one or two bad grades
– even failures –
They are learning opportunities!
What seems like catastrophe can actually be freeing.
Back when I started college I had the notion that I should become a nurse. Why? I don’t know. There were no nurses in my family, but I figured that’s what women do. They become nurses. As I recall, my older brother told me I wasn’t smart enough to become a doctor so I should become a nurse. (Hey, give him a break, it was the ’70s!)
I had done quite well in high school. Honor roll. Golden tassel. My first summer after graduating from high school, I wanted to get a jump on academics so I took a college statistics class. I passed. More than passed, I got an ‘A’. I liked statistics. I thought it was pretty interesting. I thought “if this is nursing, this is going to be great.” The next semester I took the usual bachelor degree first year classes: English, history, whatever. All A’s.
I struggled with biology. Probably because I don’t have the best memory and never took Latin. But I passed and finished they year with a good GPA.
The next year was hell. I was thrown into hospital situations. I worked with a mentally ill veteran who didn’t act mentally ill until he started talking about being stalked by the Pope. Working the maternity rotation is why I waited until my mid-30s before my son was born. All that screaming! All that yuck!
I watched an experienced nurse insert a urine catheter into a female patient and tell me it was easier on male patients. I never wanted to find out.
I gave shots during my pediatric rotation. I was terrible at it. That poor kid. Traumatized for life, no doubt. And forget drawing blood. I could never draw blood. I was terrible at everything. I even got fussed at while helping a kid brush his teeth. That’s how awkward I was.
But the final straw – the nail on the coffin, as it were – was when they sent me off to do community nursing. This was before GPS. Before cell phones. I have a terrible sense of direction and I hated those huge road maps they sold at gas stations. They were too big and folded in weird ways. The patient I was sent to visit lived on the other side of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel in Newport News. My task was simple. Drive to her home and check on her status. She was an elderly diabetic with a recent amputation. I was supposed to examine the amputation site and report my findings.
I got lost. Of course. My inner self saying “you don’t want to go there.” Hours later, I finally arrived and the patient tells me that the school had been calling and calling, wondering where I was. I talked to the lady and I never inspected her amputation site. I just ask her how she is doing. She said fine and I left as quickly as I could.
The next day the head of the nursing department called me in to her office. “You don’t have your heart in this, do you?”
I hated yuck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with dirt but not fine with vomit. Or poop. Or blood. Or puss. I thanked the head of the department and never looked back. I switched majors and ended up a computer programmer.
Now I keep bees and I write and I am eternally grateful to the head of the nursing department for being honest and rejecting me because I didn’t have the courage to say “I’m quitting.”