In my Senior year of high school, I was voted Teacher’s Pet, Most Friendly, Prom Queen, and often teasingly called ‘Miss Goody Two-Shoes’. But 2 1/2 years prior, at a different school in another district, I skipped school to avoid doing a speech in Honors English and ultimately failed the first semester of the class.
A few years earlier, in the middle of my seventh-grade year, mom and I moved. I went from a medium sized school district to a very large one, and I wasn’t happy about it.
By the time I entered tenth grade I’d grown out of my awkward, chunky stage. But I was still feeling like a minnow lost in an ocean of prettier fish and terrifying sharks.
I’d made a few friends though and was doing well in my classes. Until Mrs. L. assigned a written paper and speech presentation combo project. I don’t recall the exact assignment but I know I completed the written part.
And I know I spent more time conspiring on how to get out of the speech than I did on writing the paper. Petrified of getting up in front of my peers, I decided to skip school instead.
My 10th Grade Crime
We lived at an apartment complex at the time, and I needed to leave the apartment for the school bus before my mom would leave for work. So I’d leave our building and hide in an adjacent building hallway until she went to work, and then I’d return home.
I did this for a few days thinking I’d claim illness and be excused from giving my speech. I returned to school in time for semester finals. Forging a note from my mom and turning it into the school office, I believed all was good.
But upon my return to English class, my teacher informed me I wouldn’t get full credit for the paper unless I presented the speech. I chose not to speak. I didn’t realize it at the time but that meant I’d fail the term.
Why exactly I thought standing in front of a class of other teenagers was so terrifying I’m not sure, but clearly, I was very insecure and short-sighted. And I gave up on myself.
We aren’t always as smart as we think we are.
Mom ultimately learned of my shenanigans when my report card came out. We were horrified at my failing grade. It was a wake-up call for us both. Many conversations ensued, and thankfully mom listened to my
requests begging and moved us again.
One Step Back, Three Steps Forward
We landed in a small community – one where everyone knows each other. Initially, due to my failed grade – I was placed in a remedial English class during the last part of tenth grade at the new school – another humbling experience. Fortunately, I passed with flying colors and got back on the right track.
And then I thrived.
In my Junior and Senior year, I played volleyball and softball, was elected to student council and often stood (and spoke) in front of my peers and teachers. I’m positive I wasn’t always good at it, but at least I could finally do it. I’d gone from hating school and skipping classes to loving school and jumping into extra-curricular activities.
Life is often just like that and we can often be far too short-sighted.
We are afraid of something and thus typically procrastinate or completely avoid it. Then we often reach a point of detriment and are forced to take a step back. We
get our shit together regroup and eventually we move forward again. Find our sweet spot and blossom.
You probably don’t need to think too hard far for an example.
Maybe it’s health or fitness related. Perhaps it’s a financial or relationship matter. Or an educational or career-related issue. Maybe it’s even all those mentioned above. (Raises hand.)
A Skipped Class, But Not A Failed Life
Okay, you all know I wouldn’t have died if I’d given that speech in English class (I’m still not sure). And we’ll never know how different my life would be if my mom didn’t move us. But I do know I’m grateful for receiving that failing grade.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t like to fail. But if and when I do, I now know I’ll also (eventually) move past it.
We learn some failures will be quick and the recovery equally swift. Other failures will feel prolonged with a long agonizing road back. But, unless we quit, we can get beyond them.
It’s hard for us to see it when we’re in it, but sometimes we fail because we do indeed quit. We give up too early because we fail to look at the big picture or think long-term.
But failures are just a part of life. They aren’t who we are. We can quit, but not be a quitter.
Equally, just because we’ve accomplished successes, we shouldn’t take them for granted and expect to always succeed.
What Do You Need to Learn or Do?
Before giving up on an assignment, goal or dream consider why you are even contemplating quitting. Be honest with yourself no one’s judging – and if they are so what. If you want to quit, quit.
But if you really want to create a change in your life dig deeper and ‘quit skipping school’.
Progress and success take showing up and putting in work.
You might stumble a bit or even fail at first.
And you may need to take a step backward to move forward.
But then perhaps you’ll give yourself a better opportunity to thrive.
Are you ‘skipping class’ or ‘kicking a$$’ on your goals and projects right now? Let us know in the comments!