So yesterday, I had taken the hardest academic test of my life, my algorithms midterm. Maybe it was because I haven’t taken “hard” tests before or perhaps that it was because the test was simply hard.  Who knows, who cares; reflecting on the day, I certainly didn’t.  I knew the test would be challenging but I simply didn’t study for it.  The day of the midterm, I nonchalantly skimmed the notes and tried some practice problems but overall, I didn’t do much.  Maybe I was lazy, or maybe the enormity of the class content just intimidated me.  The entire day, I just did what I wanted to do and not the things that needed to be done.  I played the piano, I ate good food, I did an interesting assignment that wasn’t due for another week, and I just chilled.  I didn’t panic for my midterm that I hadn’t really studied for.

I ended up failing the midterm.  Well, I haven’t gotten my score back yet but I’m pretty sure it’s below 50{53c6eff5ce19621f7316832cfedf08caab022021f1679c62c3f44b8900ceaf72}.  This upset me pretty badly; never before had I ever struggled so much on a test and felt so helpless before such questions.  Despite being depressed and feeling awful for a few days, it was okay.  Our professor had told us that the scores ranged from 19 to 97 and basically gave us a pep talk saying that the exam was hard and we’ll get better.  That helped me feel a little better but I was still pretty depressed.  In the end though, it came down to me convincing myself that this one test result wouldn’t define me.  How cliche right?  But I literally had to sit down for a few hours and just think about my accomplishments thus far and how I entered my algorithms class with significantly less background than my peers.

It’s always odd to me why people in general hold themselves to the same standards as their peers for better or worse despite having different backgrounds.  The example I’m explaining is how high achieving students feel like they need to match the performance of their peers (especially in the ivy league) despite simply not being as well prepared as their peers are.  I think comparing oneself to others is a good way of keeping oneself accountable as well as a way of realizing what one might be capable of.  However, when these comparisons are taken without the proper realizations in mind (namely that others might have had a head start) and you beat yourself up for them, then you should reconsider how you’re approaching your comparisons.

Take it from a high achieving asian college student, good is good enough if you just realize it is.  Sometimes we just need to take a step back and realize everything we’ve accomplished thus far and just be proud of ourselves.  Pat yourself on the back and treat yourself for how far you’ve come; then continue on your climb once more.