Lately, the most awkward thing happened to me. I met an old school colleague at the birth preparation course.
When he and his wife entered the room I thought I was losing my mind. He looked exactly like he did 25 years ago, just a little older. The reason why I found it strange to meet him there was a) this wasn’t the city where we had gone to school together, b) this was a pant-course for couples – I was prepared to do seriously ridiculous things and c) when we went to school together I was a pain in the neck for anyone around me.
I was the kind of girl, by judging from the first to the 100s impression, you’d say: She will never make it through High School. I was loud, showed highly inappropriate behaviour with peers of the other gender, didn’t pay attention during class, didn’t participate in class and failed most of my exams. And that guy, the one at the course, he had been my math tutor.
By the way, math was the reason I failed Grade 7, Grade 9 and Grade 10. Which means, I failed High School altogether. Yet I’ve studied twice and yes – I’ve completed my studies with top marks. How that is possible? A gap in the system and lots of discipline.
I had to repeat Grade 7 and 9. Obviously, math wasn’t the only subject I struggled with. The German school system allows you to repeat two classes at the intermediate level. If you fail a third time, you have to leave school and cannot attend the Oberstufe, which is the senior level. That is exactly what happened to me. But the good thing about the system is, that when you choose Latin as a third language (which I had done) and you fail at it (which I did), you can choose to have it taken off your transcript (kind of). That doesn’t mean, that your certificate allows you to enter the senior level in grammar school. But you still get a secondary school diploma, which then allows you to continue your school education at a vocational school.
Long story short: After one year, I went back to class.
The first year back at school, the struggle was real. Not only because I’d never learned how to study, but also because of various private dramas. Due to the grace of two teachers, I passed the eleventh grade and after that everything changed! Literally!
It motivated me that someone believed in me and showed me grace. I was a broken young lady with quite a history and that someone pointed at my strengths motivated me so much.
I started to learn and received better marks. I got motivated, learned more and succeeded. I realised, that when I learned for A's, it wasn’t really a problem to get a B. A B mark meant I was far from failing and I was no longer at the edge between success and failure. So I started to study for A’s. I did that in my final year and finished as the best of the year. I went on, repeating the same systematic approach for my Engineering studies (math, hello!!!) and my Social Work studies. And I received the reward: I completed both of my studies with top marks.
So what’s the point?
1. Giving your best will most likely lead to success.
2. Grace is more powerful than judgement: When we judge, people stay the same.
3. Helping others, to see what they are good at, can change the course of a life.
My old school colleague was pretty impressed with our meeting. And I was glad that I had been able to help someone understand that our past doesn’t always determine our future.