Growing up with ADHD, I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t going to be a straight A student. Instead of honor roll plaques, my shelves were filled with participation trophies and odd little stories that I made up during class. While everyone else around me was shouting out answers in class, I was sinking lower and lower into my seat, praying that the teacher would graciously pass over me. Instead of paying attention, I would hide novels in my textbooks and retreat into my own world.
As the years passed, I was placed into the honors program due to my performance during standardized testing – because obviously that’s accurate. I was constantly surrounded by the best and brightest of my class who answered every question correctly. Like before, I would slowly sink into my seat, but that didn’t stop the teachers from calling my name. Each time I would stare at the desk praying someone else would answer.
However, I had a saving grace in my English classes. That was the one place where I could share the stories that I had spent the last few years creating. As time progressed, I began to read the assigned novels so fast that I would finish them the day after we started. Finally, I found a class that I not only understood but excelled in. It felt incredible.
Sadly, I still had math, science and history classes, which reminded me of my struggle. As the time passed, the confidence I had built up in English began to fade away. My English classes had proven to me that I wasn’t as stupid as I previously believed, but for some reason I still couldn’t keep up.
As my high school years came to a close and the idea of college loomed overhead, I was bombarded with college prep pamphlets, class rankings and GPA requirements. I always knew that I wasn’t going to be in the top 10, but when the harsh reality of my standing hit, I realized just how limited my options were going to be. My best wasn’t enough.
With that reality, I sat down with my limited list of schools and no clear idea about what I wanted to do with my life. In that mindset I started my freshman year at FMU and barely made it through biology and chemistry. English became my saving grace and my entire focus.
I was lucky enough to find a department that not only celebrated diversity but understood that learning isn’t a linear process. I met professors who encouraged me to reach far beyond what I thought was possible. They encouraged me to travel abroad and to live by myself in a foreign country, to follow my passion and create my own path to success. Yes, I still struggle with paying attention, and no, my GPA is far from perfect. But, I’ve finally realized that that’s okay.
My experiences at FMU have taught me something that I couldn’t have learned in a classroom. There are more important things in life than grades and awards.
I may not have a 4.0, but I’m driven. I’ve found a way to achieve my dreams by creating my own path to success. I’ve learned to talk to people and work hard because life hasn’t been easy, and I’ve been forced to say I need help. It’s taken a few years, but I can finally say that my dreams are starting to become reality. I can finally look at my mediocre GPA as a gift. I know exactly what I want, and I make it happen no matter what. I’m more than my GPA.