How to Have Faith in Yourself
Have you ever taken a class and thought “this isn’t going to end well?” Well, I have. I am majoring in HR (Human Resources) and minoring in Accounting. So, with this accounting minor, I have been trying to take more broad accounting courses that will help me in every aspect of the business world, rather than just the more specific tax or GAAP accounting standards topics. That thinking led me to enroll in a class called ACCTG426.
At first, I thought this class would be like any other accounting class I had taken previously. All numbers, all math, all calculations, my specialty. When I showed up to the first class though, we were promptly told to get into groups. Group-work in an accounting course? Unheard of. And to make matters worse, I didn’t know anyone in the class and nobody wanted me in their group. You know how you always see kids being picked last in Dodgeball in Disney movies? Yeah, that’s how I felt. However, this guy named Ben came up to me and asked to be part of my (nonexistent) group. Honestly, I have never been more thankful of someone.
After we formed a group, my prof then announced that this would be a discussion-based class. For those of you who have never experienced a course like this, that means that the prof doesn’t do any teaching. At least, not in the traditional “lecture” style… instead we read case studies and discuss them as a class. The prof only guides the discussions. He doesn’t tell us if our ideas are right or wrong. You just have to use your previous accounting knowledge to form conclusions. But did I mention I was just an accounting minor? So, instead of having six or seven accounting classes under my belt, I only had three to pull knowledge from. I felt like I was instantly at a disadvantage. And then, to make matters worse, I went to pick up my textbook later that day and there was not a single number in it. It was all case studies. No math, no calculations. My safety blanket had been ripped away from me. And it only got worse from there. Our first assignment was worth 6% and we had to write a paper analyzing a case, saying what we thought was wrong and recommending changes? Sounds easy right? No. As I mentioned before, you had to use prior accounting knowledge to analyze income statements, balance sheets, figure out profit margins and far more complicated stuff that I wouldn’t even know how to explain here. It was an absolute nightmare. I remember reading the first case, having absolutely no idea what to even talk about.
During the class discussions, I felt so dumb. Everyone was spurting out these clever thoughts, brilliant calculations, saying terms I had never even heard of. I’ve never felt more lost in a class. I definitely felt like I didn’t belong. I remember having so many panic attacks and breakdowns during those first two weeks of classes. There was a constant pit in my stomach. I cried almost every night. I didn’t know how I would survive the course. But I decided to persevere, aiming to just pass the course. Nothing more, nothing less.
But luckily all of the assignments leading up to the final exam were done in our groups so I had the benefit of relying on my group members’ knowledge and intelligence for guidance. I could clarify my ideas with them — talk through problems, and was eventually able to come up with answers that I was okay with. But throughout the whole course, I was just dreading the final exam that would be 3 hours long, done individually on a computer in the exam room, and was to be worth 40%. Along came April and I walked into that exam, feeling underprepared and expecting the worst. For those three hours, I sat at that computer analyzing a case study on a citrus co-op. I tried my best to pull my limited accounting knowledge into one essay, but I left that exam not knowing if I would pass the class. I felt my dreams of a 4.0 slip away. I questioned if I should drop my accounting minor. I was beginning to accept that I just wasn’t smart enough to survive these accounting courses.
I was at work when I got the email from BearTracks saying that our grades had been posted for ACCTG426. I dropped what I was doing (sorry to the customer I was helping) and logged onto the site. All I wanted was a C-, maybe even a D. Just not the dreaded F. But you know what I got instead? An A+. Not even an A. An A freakin +. That meant that according to the curve, I was in the top 6% of that class. I’m not saying this to brag (or maybe I am just a little bit, after all I’m still human), but I’m saying this because we all have to learn to have a little more faith in ourselves. Throughout those four months, I shed so many tears and had never felt more dumb. I had convinced myself I was absolutely stupid and had no reason to be in a course like that, surrounded by such intelligent individuals. I lost any confidence I had in my intellect and I just wrote myself off. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself not to worry and that everything would be just fine. It sure would eliminate a lot of stress and panic, but maybe that feeling of discovering that I had earned an A+ wouldn’t have been as satisfying.
So to all those students out there, whether you’re in your first year or your sixth, know that things have a funny way of working out. Just put in the effort, persevere and even if you feel like you don’t have the capability to pass a class, just know that sometimes life will surprise you. Relax, try to stress a little less and just focus on your studies. Find the supports that work for you — whether that means talking out your ideas with your peers, finding a tutor, or looking for student services that can offer you a little extra academic help. Have faith in yourself. You’re smarter than you think. Even if you feel stupid and lost, that’s okay. University is a time for learning and discovering. With each and every class you take, your knowledge will grow and you will become a smarter individual with the confidence and belief that you can take on whatever life throws you.
Ever since I got that A+, life just seems a little less scary. After all, if I was able to pull that off, I can do just about anything. Y’all better get ready. I’m taking over the world.