Learning Through Challenges

This week, we asked our eMentors: What is a disappointment or failure that you have experienced, and how did you overcome it?

Paige

I didn’t get a fall quarter my freshman year.  I started winter quarter, after everybody in my dorm had made friends, taken advantage of fall quarter freshman events, and begun feeling comfortable at UW.  I felt behind and upset that I had missed what I saw as “the crucial quarter” to establishing myself in this new place.

My journey to this point is convoluted.  I was accepted into UW when I applied as a senior in high school, but I also was accepted into the honors program at WSU.  I visited both schools and to be honest, I really liked the vibe at WSU.  Everyone was friendly, the perks I received as an honors student were awesome, and it was A LOT cheaper for me to go there as opposed to UW because I received substantial amounts of scholarship money.  So I chose WSU, despite a gut feeling that I didn’t want to be that far from home and Seattle.  I went to my orientation, signed up for classes, made some friends, but the whole time I felt like something wasn’t quite right.  The feeling grew until I panicked one week before I was supposed to move into my WSU dorm.  I lost it.  I think I spent 3 straight days agonizing and crying and desperately trying to decide if I was brave enough to ditch out on WSU and apply to UW a second time.  Needless to say, I was.  I’m a planner.  I like knowing where I’m going and I like certainties.  I’d been excited about college forever and I’d always had this image in my head of what it would be like.  My decision to apply again to UW and start late did not mesh with that image.

I spent my freshman year fall quarter working in a coffee shop and kicking myself for not figuring out what I’d wanted sooner.  I hated hearing about all my friends going to football games and parties, meeting all these new people and taking exciting classes.  I was literally GREEN with envy.  I was not too happy with the wrong decision I had made.  When I finally got to UW winter quarter, nothing was how I expected it to be.  I had a hard time making friends because everyone was already established and my roommate and I had nothing in common.  The redeeming point of that quarter was my classes.  I loved them.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I really faced my disappointment with how my college career had begun.  Once I came to terms with the fact that college was going to be different than I expected, not worse, but different, I was able to fully embrace life here at UW.  I began meeting people in my classes and had some great new roommates.  I fell even more in love with my major and started getting to know the faculty in my department.  All these little steps led me where I am now: a college junior who is VERY happy with how her college experience has turned out.  I’d like to think the experience bettered me.  I made a very scary decision, worked through the consequences, and came out the other end satisfied with where I am.  I couldn’t ask for more!

Beza

One disappointment that I have at the moment is the feeling of not having taken advantage of every opportunity that college provided for me.  Some things that I specifically regret are: not taking classes outside of my major, not joining more organizations and also not taking opportunity of summer internships.  In freshman year it seemed like I had all the time in the world to get involved, and to explore. I kept telling myself that my first year I had to focus on academics and that I will add more extracurricular activities in my sophomore and junior year.  I was always worried that if I try to do a lot of things at once, then I won’t have time to actually enjoy any of the things that I am doing.   In an attempt to space my schedule out, I have missed out on being involved in more things than I was involved in.  One thing that I also regret is, not having traveled to other countries when I was doing my study abroad in France. I had the chance to visit Spain but I didn’t spend additional time in other European countries.

Although I still have this regret of not utilizing my resources and my time wisely, I find comfort knowing that I am a lot mature than I was my first year of college. I am more skilled at managing my time, and I know that I need to compare different opportunities presented to me and to take a chance in the ones that come once in a life time. I am also certain that I will return to Europe and get the experience that I missed to get the first time around. One thing I learned from all of this is to immerse fully in any experience and not to wait to do something a semester later, or a year later, especially when the opportunity is presented at the moment.

Kyle

In high school I was a three sport athlete: baseball, basketball and football. In the summer before my junior year I was training and preparing to enter on the varsity team for each sport. Looking back it seems kind of trivial, but when you are in high school preparing for to play on varsity it is a big deal. That summer I was playing basketball when my I dislocated my shoulder. Fortunately, I was able to put it back in, and I even finished the game. However the problem was re-occurring. It got to the point once football season started that I was dislocating my shoulder every practice. I went to Group Health, my doctor’s office, and was told there was nothing they could do and I would just have to live with it. I tried to continue with football and I was slated for a starting position but could not finish the practices, and I finally saw my schools sports trainer. My trainer immediately referred me to a surgeon where I was able to schedule a surgery to repair my rotator cuff.

I finished the junior football season as best I could with one arm and multiple dislocations per game. I got a brace for my shoulder which was so awkward and tight it used to turn my hand purple; I had to catch passes with one hand.  I was forced to give up basketball and baseball however. The real challenge was in my rehab, when insurance didn’t cover the recommended physical therapy, and Group Health only offered a once a week program. It put into question whether I would ever be able to play sports again. I took the only option I had and rehabbed myself in my high schools weight room every day from January to June. I did come back to play my senior football season to be awarded player of the year and got my life back to play basketball, ski, swim, play football, etc. My biggest lesson was that when things get difficult or there is an unexpected problem, there is no way out of it but hard work and discipline. I have looked back on that whole year from the tough season to long hours alone in the weight room as a reminder that when faced with a tough challenge I just have to put in the long hours and persevere.

Manmeet

One of my greatest disappointments was not getting the LSAT score that I was hoping for. The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) is the test that all students have to take in order to apply to law school. The score you receive on this test plays a significant role in the admissions process, which is why I spent so much time preparing for it. I took an LSAT prep course (that cost over $1000) and studied on my own as well. I was scoring really well on the practice tests but my score on the actual test day ended up being quite a few points lower, which was really frustrating. When I first found out my score I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. The first few weeks after I found out my score I kept thinking “if only I had taken a few more practice tests” or “if only I had started studying earlier.” Eventually, however, I realized that there was no point in playing out “if only” situations in my head. I did the best I could and it wasn’t worth my time to keep worrying about something that I no longer had control over. Now, I just remind myself that I should be proud of the score that I did get, even if it was lower than what I wanted. The main thing I learned from this entire experience is that it is good to set high goals and have high expectations, but we shouldn’t let any potential disappointments get the best of us. Not getting the perfect LSAT score isn’t going to keep from going to law school and becoming a lawyer.



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