Failure at its Finest

When my history teacher passed back the report that I’d poured my heart into with what felt like a huge “F” on the front, I thought I was going to throw up and pass out right there. I waited until after class, and tried to talk to my teacher, begging him to raise my grade just a few points because there was no way I was bringing home my first fail only a few weeks after starting 6th grade. He refused, however, and my heart sank.

I legitimately thought I was going to die. I was so sure, I even started to say goodbye to all my friends. At the very least, I was sure my parents would send me away to boarding school, but worst case scenario was six feet under.

I didn’t tell my parents at first. I wanted to savor those last few blissful moments, the moments when my parents would still be looking at me with love in their eyes. It wasn’t until one morning a few days later, when my dad was driving me to school, that I finally worked up the nerve to say anything.

Now, I should say something about my dad. He is a very intimidating man. He is 6’1”, a former army man, and could probably break someone’s neck if he actually tried. He’s generally a man of few words, but when he speaks, people listen.

Eleven year old me was sitting in the passenger seat while the car stalled in the garage, my dad hanging his wool coat in the back seat. It was only a few moments before I blurted out:
“Dad, I failed a project.”

I was prepared for the worst. I was ready for him to grab me by my collar and lock me in my room for days.

He looked over at me for a few moments, before calmly asking,
“Did you try your hardest?”

I was dumbfounded. What did he mean, did I try my hardest? Of course I did, but what did that matter? I failed. Why wasn’t he screaming about this?

“I tried my hardest.”

“Okay, then. As long as you honestly tried your hardest, that’s enough for me.”

He then turned on the news and drove me to school like nothing had happened at all.

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Olivia Moran is a freshman at SUNY Geneseo, studying English and planning to major in creative writing.