Struggle With Much Success

Somehow, at the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, I thought everything would be easy, similar to my ninth grade year.

However, the curriculum was only easy in the first two weeks of school. The third week of school was when I got a reality check – my first chemistry unit exam was placed upon my desk. As I meticulously completed my exam with only ten minutes left, I thought that I did well on it. I scored a 58 average. I have always considered myself a hard worker who pushes through any challenge to figure out how I can be successful.

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My first failing chemistry exam grade was reflected in big bold numbers put upon my progress report for the week, which I would then have to go home and explain to my mom. She, working long hours as a single mom to raise me, is someone who I admire the most. I did not want to disappoint her. I was so nervous I took an extra five minutes to get home just so I can figure out the way I was going to tell my mom.Although she understood my reasoning, she told me that I needed to re-examine my studying habits and determine how I would work to be successful.

This simple phrase coming from my mom was really important to me, given all she has gone through to ensure my success. At the age of 21 she was alone taking care of three kids; and at 25 she was taking care of five kids, both her and my father’s. Although she did not finish high school the way she wanted to, she still went later to get her GED and ultimately went on to college. Her everyday routine was dropping me and my siblings off to school, getting to Monroe College to complete her three classes, going to work, coming home to get me and my siblings and then preparing a dinner for that night, all by herself. Her story continuously pushed me to do better and motivated me to work through all the challenges I experienced at school.

From failing, I learned that I had to find new strategies for studying. Starting from that day I started studying everyday as much as possible – note cards, re-reading, study partners – anything to get me that passing grade. My exam scores were beginning to rise higher and higher the more I studied each night. I passed my second semester with a 77 average and felt heavily disappointed. I expressed to my mother that maybe the 77 average was as high as I could go.

She immediately shot down this idea and explained to me that not everyone is perfect at everything. I knew that she would always be there to support me as long as I tried. In order to keep positive I chanted a motto in my head. It was that “without struggle there’s no progress” by Frederick Douglass. I reflected on my own experience in chemistry class and the progress I made from failing the class to passing it and, more importantly, understanding it.

As the year came to an end, I prepared to take the chemistry regents and passed it. I knew that because I had prepared endlessly, I would pass. My struggle through chemistry class helped me realize that there is nothing that cannot be done if I put my mind to it. Failing my first trimester was a moment of importance in high school but I know that there will be more struggles to face as I enter college.I will be ready to handle the struggles that come my way and ask for the help whenever I need it. After all, there is neither progress nor success without struggle.