I am finishing up my masters in chemistry but have decided not to future pursue my dream of getting a PhD. I failed, as hard as I have tried I have failed. You may think I am very upset by this fact and believe me when I tell you I was for a while. But then I realized this experience was not all for nothing and while I have failed here I have accomplished much more than my child self could even imagine. However, before I tell you what I have learned from graduate school you must first know a little about my past.
In second grade I got diagnosed with a learning disability. In 5th grade I could barely read Mary Had a Little Lamb and the only thing I was decent at was math and even that I was only average in. But I worked hard and had an amazing family that supported me both in school and in life. My mother taught me how to face my fears and to never let new experiences pass you by. My father taught me how to be a loving father, something I greatly aspire to be one day. And finally my older sisters taught me the meaning of hard work and standing up for what you believe in.
I saw the other kids with learning disabilities and I decided at a young age that I did not want to end up a statistic but instead work my ass off in order to catch up to my pears. And that was my mindset. From the time I was 7 until I graduated college at the age of 23 I only focused on working as hard as I could on my education.
But when I turned 25, now in graduate school at UCLA, my goals started to refocus. I realized what I have been chasing I have already obtained and what I was working towards now was a higher statues in the world. I wanted to prove to myself that I was no longer that 7-year-old kid with a learning disability and the only way I knew how to do that was to get my PhD. But the fact is I will always be that little kid with a learning disability and I now realize that is quite possibly my greatest attribute. Because of my struggles I have learned what it means to work hard. Because I was bad at memorization I had to really learn all the material in order to make it stick in my head. To compensate for the lack of memorization skills my critical thinking ability greatly improved as well. Yes I was self-conscious for many years about my learning disability but now it serves to humble me and remind myself of what I am grateful for.
At the same time I was discovering my true motivations I was also discovering what was truly important to me. I realized I did not want to be a cutting edge researcher anymore. I wanted to have a normal job so that I would have time to become an amazing father like my father was to me. I realized I didn’t want to make my career my life because I wanted time to do other things like maintain contact with my current family, start my own family, write, and learn more about myself. I learned that I love to teach and I can pursue that passion working as a community college professor with my masters.
So I failed. I will never get my PhD. But with that failure comes more opportunities to do what I love with the people I love spending time with the most. I have heard that failure can be a great learning experience but it was not until I experienced great failure that I can truly accept those words. Thank you University of California, Los Angeles for all you have given me. I will not forget you.
Thanks for reading and let me know your views on failure. If you enjoyed reading don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe to my blog! To subscribe just enter your email into the box on the upper right. I post every Sunday at 8 AM pacific standard time!
Letters to Help