For me to move from average to above average, there is one lesson I had to learn. I remember when I started my first semester at college this January. I was 21 and had graduated high school about four years ago. I thought that college would be easy because I did fairly well in high school, just got off active duty and I was out in the world for a few years and more mature. I had no reason to struggle, right? Wrong.
When classes started, I went to school with the mentality that I already had it in the bag. In my opinion, I wasn’t like some of the other college students who were too lazy to come to class or more interested in their phones than the teacher teaching. I mean I didn’t have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to take up any of my time, so I thought A’s were a given until Math 113 game along and I had to reevaluate.
On the first day of class; my Math teacher threw exponents on the board. Per her this would be the easiest chapter of all the chapters we would be testing on during the semester, of course, I would agree. I did it in high school. If you are multiplying same base exponents you add and if you are dividing same bases with exponents you subtract. Should be easy as cake, right? Wrong. When I got my chapter test back, I had gotten 76%
Now, I know you probably think that 76% isn’t terrible and your right it’s not, but remember, that was supposed to be the easiest test for the semester. Everything in class after that took in exponents. If I got a 76 on the most straightforward tests what was my outlook going to be on the other tests that were going to be harder? It was daunting for a second, but then I just reasoned that it was my first test back in school and the next one I would do better.
Well, the next test came around and did I do better? No. I barely scraped up enough to get 72%, and I think I got 68% on the test after that or 72% and 68% on the test after that. (I can’t quite remember, I might have blocked it out because of how annoyed and frustrated I was). I was falling fasting into failing that class, and to me that was terrifying. I have never failed a class in my life. I remember I was getting so frustrated and mad that I began doubting myself and thinking that I wasn’t smart anymore, I stopped asking questions when I didn’t understand, and just stared out the window longing for the class to end. I was hoping that my teacher wouldn’t come to the back of the class to ask me if I understood what she just taught. (I also started to develop this bad attitude. Mrs., Ryan if you are reading this I am sorry.)
I remember when it was time to take the next test, I was ready to accept 68% or lower because based on the last couple test I had no reason to expect better. The tests were getting harder, and for the next chapter, you needed to know the material from the previous chapter. Did I get 68% or lower? No. I got an A on that test and the test following. I finished the remainder of the semester with all A’s including my final. That’s when I realized the key to moving from average to above average is patience, especially with yourself. (Which explains why I was getting frustrated just two weeks into the semester. Patience has never been my strong suite.)
I have always wanted things to be instantaneous. I wanted to grasp things and learn things as quickly as possible, but this one class taught me that this is not how success works. Success is a process, that doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes some time to develop, and that’s okay. When I stopped beating myself up and accepted the fact that I will not grasp everything right immediately, I relieved myself of this unnecessary burden to be an instant success. I became patient with how I learned. Being patient with yourself is important in accomplishing any goal that you may have. If you are patient with yourself when you make mistakes and allow yourself to learn at your own pace and experience things in your way you’ll develop an attitude and way of thinking that is conducive to accomplishing what you want. Sometimes we are obsessed with where we want to end up, that we fail ourselves in our efforts to get there. We don’t give ourselves enough time to put our best foot forward before we start counting ourselves out and making the hill steeper to climb.
So be patient with yourself. Don’t get caught up in thinking of what you should be, where you should be or what you should know by a particular point in time. Instead, give yourself time to get where you want to go and accept a pace that works best for you. The size of the task doesn’t matter. If you are not patient with yourself, you will fail more than you will succeed. Patience is the difference between being average and above average.