I want to start today’s blog post with a story. So you may know (or you may not) that I am a Teaching Assistant (TA) for a history professor. Part of my responsibility for this professor is grading certain assignments. Long story short, the class had an assignment due last Monday, and I had an incredibly busy week of my own stuff, and I couldn’t get around to grading until yesterday. I didn’t check any of the submissions because I had so much other stuff to focus on.
Well, I’m in the middle of grading when I come across a couple strange things. One student accidentally submitted the prompt for her assignment rather than her file. No problem. I’ve done it. The next student submitted her file as a Google Doc, but I had issues seeing it. So I emailed them separately and was like “hey, I can’t access your file (or you submitted the prompt). Can you resubmit it or send it to me so that I can grade it for you?” About two hours after I sent the email, I get a response from the student who submitted it as a Google Doc. Her response says, “I actually forgot to take exam 2 somehow so there’s no way for me to pass the class now. Just put a zero.”
I just stared at this email in shock when I got it. How do you respond to that?! I’m studying to be a teacher myself. I never want any of my students to fail. I just couldn’t believe that, so I just forwarded it to my professor to be like, “Where do we go from this?” My professor responded this morning and told me to give her a 0 for refusing to do the work.
This student had given up. First of all, I don’t know how you “forget” to take an exam. Second of all, if I had forgotten to take an exam, I would be like begging my professor for something I could do or work my hardest to try to make my grade as high as possible. Like even now, almost 24 hours later, I am still in shock by this whole situation. This student was just willing to give up on this entire class.
Giving up is often the easier option, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one. We all facing adversity in our lives in one way or another. For me, I know I can get really stressed about school and I want to give up. And I know some people who have done this. I’m not criticizing their choices or thinking I am better than they are. College is not the choice for everyone. What’s important (and what I think those friends are doing) is that you do something else.
Giving up can also mean trying something new, which is what my friends are doing. I have one friend who decided college wasn’t for him, and focused on the Army instead. I have another friend who is working on maybe being a writer. Sometimes them giving up one thing leads to new opportunities. For me as a teacher, there are times when my students are not understanding the material properly. Rather than continually just teach the same method, I give up that thought and try a new tactic. More often than not, the student will grasp the new way for the same topic.
However, giving up in the face of adversity, like what my student did, is hardly ever the way to go. Life doesn’t always happen the way you expect to. At this point, I think my life motto actually comes from a line in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2 for the movie) when Harry says, “We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose.” But just because my plans don’t work the way I expect, doesn’t mean I give up. It means I adapt and overcome.
I don’t know what adversity you face. But I can tell you that giving up rarely solves the problem. Just because you walk away from the wall doesn’t mean the wall is still there. You’ll either have to face it and get past it somehow or live inside the walls of your comfort zone. Honestly, life is far and away more exciting beyond your walls. So find a way out of the wall that works for you, and overcome that adversity. Then, when you come to another wall down the road, rather than giving up, you have the tools and knowledge to overcome it. You’ve got this! Don’t give up!