This past Thanksgiving on a trip to Palo Alto to visit family, I overheard my daughter Adina speaking about her first semester at the University of Arizona. Adina shared with a friend that she was taking 18 credits (the maximum allowed per semester), working at the JCC, working at our local synagogue, and volunteering with the Jewish Youth Choir. She said that while at first she felt overwhelmed, she eventually found her rhythm, and was on pace to get straight “A’s,” a feat she was unable to accomplish in high school. But her next statement pleased me most. She said that being successful while taking 18 credits and all her activities has taught her that she can overcome almost anything.
Today, many young people grow up thinking of themselves as victims. They feel the world is stacked against them. When they don’t achieve what they want, they blame it on the circumstances around them rather than looking at what they could have done to improve their situation.
There are real victims in the world. But as soon as you see yourself as a victim, your ability to influence the world around you diminishes significantly. I was really glad to see my daughter learning that she can take responsibility for the things important in her life.
Adina faced a similar situation again second semester. In math, she had a 92 average toward the end of the semester. But she caught a 24-hour virus on a Sunday evening, was vomiting all night, and missed a math quiz the next morning. Rather than letting her make up the quiz or simply not counting it for or against her, the math teacher gave her a zero. She then told Adina that if the zero makes a difference in her grade, she’d look at Adina’s final exam grade and take that into consideration. Adina and I were both flabbergasted that she would be penalized for being sick.
Adina was afraid to push hard with her teacher, since her teacher’s discretion might come into play. So she took matters into her own hands, got 100% on the final, and finished with 4.0 average for both semesters.
As someone once said, once you commit to something, the world conspires to help you.
Way to go, Adina!