I almost failed this semester.
Like “ya girl already failed one class last semester and if she fails again this semester she’s gonna have to leave school” failed.
It was the middle of March when I realized that could become my reality.
I was walking up the stairs to my 8am when it slapped me in the face:
“I want to stay here.”
The goal was to always graduate, but this felt different. I still don’t know how to describe it. It’s just that in this one moment, everything shifted.
I wanted it. For the first time ever in college, and my college experience has been up and down since before I even started, I wanted it.
I wanted it bad and I was going to fight for it.
So I did. I sat with friends and did homework because being with people keeps me prideful and competitive — if they’re doing homework, I don’t want them to see me checking Facebook or getting distracted so I’m gonna focus on my work like they are.
I stayed out of my apartment all day most days — if I went home I knew I wasn’t going to get anything done.
I had a meeting with my advisor — he said I should be okay if I turned in the rest of my assignments and finished strong. We calculated the worst case scenario, and I’d still be okay. Academic probation wouldn’t be on the table.
Until the last week of school.
When I hadn’t turned in every assignment like I said I would.
When I roughly calculated my GPA and I was a few hundred points short in the two online classes I was struggling in.
The freaking annoying online Gen Ed classes.
One of the classes I took the final and was f o u r p o i n t s short of what I needed to pass the class.
I went home.
I haven’t been that emotional in over a year to know that the only thing I needed in that moment was to be home. Because more than anything, I couldn’t bear staying in my apartment, minutes from campus, looking out the window thinking my time was ticking for how much longer I could stay there.
I legitimately started preparing my grave. I texted friends and told family.
One friend told me I wasn’t alone and that plenty of her friends have failed classes or been on academic probation and that it wasn’t the end of the world. One friend told me she’d failed three classes and had to retake the same class three times and her GPA is trash too. One friend brought me ice cream and let me cry in his arms. If there’s anything I took away from the excruciating weekend, it was that I had a support team much larger than I originally thought.
I talked to the rest of my professors. Checked forums online. Reran the numbers for GPA and academic probation.
Sat online for hours waiting for grades to roll in.
And by the grace of God alone.
By God alone.
I made D’s in both, and it’s not that those are really great letters to be proud of, but for someone who was convinced she was going to have to leave school, they’re amazing.
And somehow, who knows how, my GPA went u p.
We’re all still wondering how that happened.
. . .
I can’t call it luck because that felt anything but lucky. That felt like falling off a cliff and a tree branch catching my shirt on the way down.
It felt like digging my grave and climbing in and pulling the dirt over my face, only for the Grim Reaper to come back and say “Whoops, got my dates mixed up.”
In those moments I didn’t want to give up, but there wasn’t any other choice, so I prepared for the worst. And still don’t know how it turned out in my favor, a second chance, restored hope.
I’m still not really proud of it. It’s still really hard writing this, that I was “one of those kids” who desperately talked to professors the last day of class to see if there was anything I could do. I’d done what I could earlier in the semester, and thought it’d been enough, and it still wasn’t (at the time).
What I know for certain is the shame I felt was real.
“None of my friends are failing classes or have failed — I can literally point to every single friend and they have better GPAs than me.”
“Everyone has a better work ethic than me.”
“Everyone knows what they want to do or has an idea of what they want to do — I’m just existing and do a few things but nothing’s purposeful.”
It wasn’t just that I felt alone but that I was so ashamed I’d gotten myself to that place. The thought that kept going through my head the most was that my GPA made me look like I didn’t care about school at all. I remember sobbing to my mom, “I look like a kid who does drugs throughout the week and doesn’t give a shit about college or life and that’s not me.”
Everyone said there was no way that could be true and these things happen to everyone at some point, and sometimes you take L’s sooner than other people. But nothing helped.
Not until I found out I had barely passed did I feel any sort of relief.
Wakeup call doesn’t even match what this felt like.
Again, tree branches and Grim Reaper.
. . .
I’ve had several people reach out to me since my Instagram post about this thanking me for speaking out about my experience. I have to be honest with them, and you, that at this point I don’t want to carry shame for this experience. And that if by my being honest about this helps someone else through either the exact same situation or a situation full of shame and guilt, then I’ll gladly keep typing.
Because I don’t know what you see when you look at my Instagram page. I know what I see when I look at other people’s. Believe me. I’m caught in the “scrolling for three hours looking at the beautiful people and feeds” trap almost on a weekly basis.
Still something I’m working on.
But if there’s anything I want you to see, and feel, and experience when you come across this page or my feed or meet me in person, it’s that you. are. so. not. alone. And I swear to God that I do not have everything together and that I promise you this: I will continue to speak my truth so you feel brave enough to speak yours and that you don’t have to have it all together too.
All of this to say, for the ones who feel like failures, you’re not. I promise. You’re worth fighting for — believe that. Own that.. You’re worth fighting for yourself and not leaving behind in a dump.
My mantra for that week was: “Freaking. No. This is not how you’re going to leave your life. You’re going to keep fighting.” Own that too. Own that you deserve to take up space here and you deserve to create something you’re proud of and want to chase after and you are so much braver and strong than you think.
And in the great words of Olan Rogers, someone familiar with great failure and great success:
“Every fight needs a few good hits.”
So take those L’s and those hits, and trust me that you’re going to problem-solve your way out of this.
In the meantime, make yourself a cup of tea and be kind to yourself.