Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. (at least 250 words, less than 2000 characters)
I thought it was the end of the world. That terrible blood red overlaid atop the page with a jumble of squares and triangles and other strange symbols underneath. A 35 out of 50 on my Geometry test. A 70 percent. My first C. Oh, the tragedy.
I remember holding back tears; the mixture of anger and frustration with myself pulsed through my body. My 14-year-old self felt the world crash down and I wallowed in misery for the rest of the day.
Then I stopped the moping. I stopped, went home, plopped myself at my desk, and figured out every problem that I got wrong. I cursed Euclid and Pythagoras and Homer, too (though he had no fault in the matter), and every other brilliant Greek mathematician who I now considered responsible for my unwanted date with my textbook.
I would never be the perfect math student. I accepted that a long time ago. And the grade itself did not really matter; after all what more was it than just another number? What I cared for, I realized, was the struggle. Racking my brain to the point of frustration, until something clicked and suddenly everything made sense - that is how I built deeper understanding. Fighting my way through this was the best that I could ask of myself. That is what I began to do then, and that is still what I do no.
A few days later, my English teacher asked if I would mind her Xeroxing my To Kill a Mockingbird essay to show to the class. Maybe the reason I did not do great with numbers was that I did so much better with words, whose delicate subtleties and carefully constructed messages spoke to me in a way that little else ever could. And that was okay too.
When the next math test came, I worried. But not as much as before. I had asked my questions, found the answers, and made amends with Euclid. Now it was all up to me. The 55-minute testing period flew by and, after that, all I could do was to wait.
My teacher handed our tests back the next day. This time, the red was not so terrible. I got 103 percent.
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