This is an amazing story from Rani Barlas and Bala Cynwyd Middle School teacher Eileen Evans. It takes a lot of courage to go first on a project that everyone you know will read. We are grateful for Rani & Ms. Evans taking the time to do this.
Written at the end of the school year 2012, we decided to use it as our "Opening Story" for this new blog this school year. We appreciate their support and patience!
We hope many parents, teachers, relatives and friends will follow their lead and submit stories or ideas for stories. You can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; get more info about this series in the first blog post, here, or blog your stories yourself on Patch.
Here is Rani's story:
What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.
- Alexander Graham Bell
I used to believe I wasn’t smart enough, that I wasn’t talented enough, that I couldn’t do as much as I hoped I could do. I allowed myself to believe that successful people were born that way, and I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. I don’t know why I had these beliefs, but I understand now that I was wrong. I know now that what we believe about ourselves can either hold us back or set us free to reach for the stars. Each of us has the ability to achieve our goals, but to do so requires a positive mindset, hard work, dedication and discipline.
Last year, when I was in seventh grade, I got mostly B’s and C’s in school, with an occasional A. This year I am earning straight A’s. What’s changed? The classes haven’t changed—they’re harder this year, not easier. What’s changed is my belief in myself, what I am capable of, and then doing what it takes to succeed.
Back in seventh grade, I would hang out with friends after school, come home, do a little homework, have dinner, video chat with friends, go on Facebook, and if I had a test the next day, study for it. This was a sure plan for academic mediocrity. I was careless and irresponsible about school and failed to truly absorb the information.
Something clicked in my head when I started eighth grade. I realized that to get good grades, I needed to earn them, and to earn them I needed to work hard and dedicate myself to the tasks. This year, I come right home after school and do my homework before I do anything else. I make sure it’s accurate, checking my answers for errors and asking for assistance when I need it. I continuously review the course materials to truly understand them, not just to know what I need to know for quizzes and tests. Flashcards have become a necessity. I make a flashcard for every ounce of information I learn in class, and I review those flashcards until the information is tattooed onto my brain.
School has become enjoyable for me. I am comprehending the subjects, rather than just getting by. The feeling of accomplishment is addictive, like a drug that drives me with a need to succeed. The changes in my outlook and attitude are not just about my schoolwork. I began to play the Double Bass.
When I started, I did not practice consistently and I was not as good as I wanted to be. When this year began, I started practicing more consistently, and also began to play the Electric Bass, Guitar and Drums. I now understand the one-for-one relationship between practice and accomplishment.
There have been times in my life that I felt that there was no point in trying, because the task that lay ahead was too difficult to complete. There will be moments in my life, when people will try to convince me that I can’t accomplish what I am striving for. What I am learning is to trust myself, to ignore the negativity and limiting mindset of others, and to stay focused and move forward.
There are no limits to what one can achieve through hard work and dedication. Every expert started off as a novice. What we become is a result of the paths that we select and the commitment and effort we choose to put forward. Our future is not determined for us before we begin.
Do not let fear overtake your motivation, because the only way to truly fail is never to try at all. Glance back to the obstacles that you’ve overcome, anticipate the endless opportunities that lie ahead of you, and know that there is nothing that can stop you from achieving your dreams.