Through high school, everyone always tells you about how hard Grade 11 is, and how much of a leap it is from Grade 10, but no one ever really realizes it until it hits them. Even though we are used to each grade steadily increasing in workload and complexity; the jump from Grade 8 to Grade 9 and the smaller jump from Grade 9 to Grade 10, we never realize how much harder we have to work in Grade 11. It’s stressful. Especially since it is the year that your grades start to matter. We have to start thinking about post-secondary and what we want to do in the future, as well as the courses we want to take and the prerequisites for them. Grade 11 is hard, but it’s not impossible to do well in it. You just have to figure out your biggest bad habits, maybe you don’t have any, but you find them and you slowly try to fix them. This whole semester, I couldn’t really figure it out. I had ideas, but they weren’t things that really affected my schoolwork. Last week, however, I visited my respirologist and that is where I had an epiphany. He told me that in order to succeed, one has to be smart, but more importantly, they need to have discipline; and that is when I realized that discipline is my greatest flaw.
Through the earlier years of my life, (I didn’t say early because I’m still at an early stage in my life), life was so much easier. I didn’t have as many responsibilities, I didn’t really need to commit to anything, and most importantly: school was easy. Despite growing up with very high standards for myself, by both my mom and I, I didn’t really study. I never studied. I might have skimmed over my notes to make sure I didn’t really miss anything, but other than that, I didn’t do much. I didn’t even do my homework; unless it was for marks, and in that case, I worked hard. My Grade 7 teacher once said to my sisters that it was like the information went in one ear, out the other, and onto my tests; being that I didn’t really pay attention in class and I didn’t do the extra practice questions. I just did whatever I wanted and my grades were never affected by it. I never needed to be disciplined; my mom did enough of that for me, but even at that young age, I was teaching myself slowly on how not to be disciplined.
As I went through my last bits of middle school, as well as the first half of high school, I realized that my procrastination level has only grown. At first, it was only things that I forgot I had to do, like a last minute assignment or a recently discussed quiz. As time went on, even the type of things I procrastinated increased. From handing in things late, to completing them the morning they’re due; I would always hand everything, eventually. Even in Grade 9 and Grade 10, I look back and I remember assignments that I only did the night before. Just before, in Grade 8, I did the biggest assignment of the year, the night before it was due. And I got 98%. The problem with that, however, is that I didn’t see that doing it the night before was particularly bad; I mean, how could it be when I got a 98% out of it. That was the problem with my mentality, and because I didn’t see it, my bad habits only grew from there.
Discipline doesn’t just apply to school; it applies to basically every area of one’s life. When my respirologist gave me advice, he wasn’t just talking about school, but rather about my physical health. One of the things I struggle with often is consistency. Discipline is the following of rules and the codes of behaviour; therefore, it can also be about daily things. Only recently have I begun to notice all of them.
- For one, the only thing I’ve ever improved on, is brushing my teeth. As a child, I hated needing to brush twice a day and often only did once, but I’ve gotten better since then
- Medicine: I am so genuinely awful at remembering to take my medicine. Every single day, I need to take puffs on my inhaler, as well as eat small tablets, but I never remember. Either I am busy and I remember and I can’t get to my medicine, or I just don’t want to, or don’t feel like it. Most of the time, however, it’s just because it is tucked away, never triggering the memory to take them. Obviously, this didn’t really make my respirologist happy, hence his quote, but he was right.
- Physical activity is something that one has to constantly work at to be good at it. Even flexibility goes away after enough time without stretching. For me, the lack of exercise in the last few weeks, wasn’t cutting it for my respirologist. Because of my lack of exercise, I was gaining weight again, and rapidly too. He even recommended that I join a weight loss group, and that is where I hit a low in my life. I politely declined, but it still hurts that my respirologist basically told me that I’m pretty overweight and that I need to turn my life around.
- Music is one of my greatest passions, but with music comes a lot of practicing, which by now, you see where this is going. For starters, singing is a lot more than just opening your mouth and having sounds come out. There is so much technique involved, especially to do classical music, which I do, and that requires practice. Practicing unique exercises to train my voice, or to watch myself in the mirror, to make sure that I’m doing it right. I have to study my music each week to see what notes I’ve been given, and my music always has to be memorized. Then there’s piano. I love piano, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a very disciplined instrument. At higher levels, people have to be practicing everyday, the same bars over and over again without being inaccurate. Being disciplined in piano means that one can practice the smart and the hard way, which in the long run, ends up being the quickest and most accurate. At this point, I should be disciplined to practice piano: counting every beat, redoing every measure until I get it right, and even slowing it down til I get it. In tricky spots, I have practice the same bar, over and over and over again until I feel comfortable, and then I do it a few more times. It is so tedious, but piano is all about having the discipline to do so. Even with my theory, I’m supposed to have reviewed it slowly, bit by bit, but I haven’t been. I know exactly how my undisciplined self did on my last practical and theory piano exams, and they weren’t exactly the best.
- Last but not least, school. I’ve been really struggling this semester, to say the least. Not having a good work or study ethic and not being disciplined have really been downfall. Even now, I don’t mean to procrastinate, but I somehow did, and now I’m writing this in the early hours of the morning, after this was due for the 3rd time. As the year has gone on, I’ve been trying to do better with my work ethic, but as they say,”Old habits die hard.” The biggest learning curve I had this year, was in ELA. I knew from the start that I wasn’t cut out for AP, but I wanted to improve so badly. I know that writing is one of my weaknesses, it still is, but I like to think that I’ve improved. From the start, knowing that writing was a weakness, ELA got hard really fast for me. I like writing more now, but when I started, I’d rather do so many things than write. After our pages and pages of writing that we’ve had to do this semester, I feel so grateful for everything that I’ve learned, but I know that I’m still not cut out for it and I truly feel awful. For with writing as an assignment, and my nonexistent discipline, I would procrastinate to the last possible second, and then I would have writer’s block, and then I would get distracted by something, and I would never get back to it. This whole semester I’ve been behind, and I am so sorry to Hunni for having to deal with me all semester. I’ve been getting in marks literally the day that they’re due and it’s been the absolute worst. It’s like in those cartoons where a person trips when going down hill, and then they becomes a snowball, and that snowball gets bigger and bigger until they finally crash at the bottom of the hill. That’s basically how I’ve been. I didn’t get my stuff done over the summer, and I’ve been handing in everything late since then, and looking back, I feel so awful about it. Sometimes I’ll get a glimmer of hope and I’ll complete something on time, but I feel trapped by myself. If it weren’t for my undisciplined self, I wouldn’t have to stress Hunni out so much with all my late assignment because she always sees the best in people and she wants them to do well, but I just keep pushing it.
I never realized that I was so undisciplined until that day at my respirologist’s office, where he basically told me that I need to turn my life around; and since that day, I’ve just been a whirlwind of emotions. It’s a hard thing to change a habit that you’ve had most of your life, like biting your nails,(Which I still cannot break that habit and I’ve been trying for a long time). In breaking habits, you need the discipline to stop doing your habit, but when you don’t have discipline, it’s pretty freezerburning hard. Even this week, I’ve fallen back to my usual ways and while I got some stuff done, it was done at the last minute like everything else this semester. With my other subjects, it was a little easier to be on top of it, except physics: we don’t talk about physics, but my main struggle was with ELA, and while I’ve been a terrible person when it comes to handing in work, I’m super grateful. I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined, about writing, reading, the world, and myself. I’ve had more epiphanies in one classroom, than I’ve had anywhere else in the world, and for that I am grateful and terribly sorry for the way this semester has gone.