What I Do When I Fail
by Jenna Tran
I stare at my screen for what seems like minutes, showing my failing score on a test. As I sit in complete frustration, my stomach begins to turn in an unpleasant sensation.
Whenever I receive an undesirable score, my first reaction is to curl up into a ball and disappear. I feel like I disappointed myself, my parents, and my teachers. I feel infuriated, yet embarrassed and sad at the same time. In my mindset, it’s hard to let go of my parent’s high expectations for myself. Knowing that I didn’t live up to it, these are the moments when it feels like I should just give up and my insecurities are going to eat me alive. These are the tests that will determine your grade overall, and then your future. This overthinking snowball effect has been with me since elementary but progressively got worse in middle school. I grew up in the stereotypical world, constantly being compared, and comparing myself to everyone around me. This used to be my driving force to do better, so why didn’t it work? It drained a lot of my energy. I would put in hours of effort into my work, only for the student who did the bare minimum to get a better score, and I grew more and more agitated, which caused me a lot of pain trying to reach the level of top students.
In eighth grade was when I finally let my toxic insecurities get the best of me. Towards the end of the school year, there was an entire list that was emailed to everyone of all the student IDs, and next to it, were various categories on what award that student received. I then found my ID, getting excited about finally receiving an award, but I looked over to see that I was being recognized for my perfect GPA…in citizenship. These broke me on the inside, but that’s not even the worst part. About a week or two later, since I didn’t attend the awards ceremony, the ASB was calling students who didn’t pick up theirs, which I was one of them. After hesitantly picking mine up, the anger began to take over my body out of jealousy as I saw my friends get the “Principal’s Honor Roll” award which recognizes your academic achievement. I sat there, my blood boiling more by the minute, staring blatantly at my award, deciding on whether I should do something with it. I finally reached my limit, and ripped up my award into shreds, throwing it in the trash afterward. My best friend seeing me do that, got upset, asking me why I did something like that and reminded me of my worth.
Though I couldn't see it at the time, it took a while for me to finally realize that everyone is different, and comparing myself to others isn’t worth having to endure the pain. When coming to this conclusion, I was able to change my pessimistic mindset from middle school, to now an optimistic one. There were a lot of factors that helped me overcome this, but having close people to support you along the way is a huge part that helped me realize things such as failing a test doesn’t determine my overall worth, and that my mental health is way more important. Because failing a test doesn’t determine your future. Our days are counting down. We only have a limited time on this Earth, and what matters more is to live those days to how you want to, not spending those days stressing yourself out over a test that you can always improve on next time.
Jenna Tran is a socially introverted high school senior who’s still discovering her voice. When she isn’t writing, you might find her taking pictures, cloud watching, daydreaming, studying, listening to her favorite artists such as Conan Gray, Alec Benjamin, Bruno Major, and Shawn Mendes, or watching dog videos on Instagram. Through her writing, she hopes to create a relatable and positive space for everyone reading her work. Despite her introversion, she continues to aspire to voice her passion for helping others through this platform.