The Struggle Builds Character


Growing up in my house, if you were struggling at something, you weren’t bad at it—you just weren’t trying hard enough. Of course, this sentiment doesn’t apply to all situations, but when it came to school, no concept, assignment or problem was too hard. You simply weren’t putting in enough work.

Unfortunately for me, I decided that I was actually bad at math in high school. It seemed an insurmountable task for me to get through my junior year math course. So instead of working harder and smarter, I dropped. Now, I find myself a college student with enough math to get by, but I regret not realizing that I’d never be disappointed in having more abilities in math.

When I got to college, I decided I was done being ‘bad’ at things. I might have to work three times as hard as the next person, but I would not back away from a challenging course. I’ve been in a handful of courses that made me want to throw the book out the window. Ultimately though, the struggle built character, as well as knowledge. Each difficult course built up tolerance for the challenges ahead.

It’s easy to pick a major you’re good at, because chances are that you’re good at what you like. What’s difficult, however, is to take a few classes that you know will challenge you. A liberal arts education gives us the opportunity to take courses we had never heard of in high school. It’s easy to stick with what you’re good at, but know that the hard classes build character.

In a larger sense, overcoming obstacles is one of the biggest learning experiences of college. Moving to a new place, making friends, joining clubs and reinventing yourself are all challenging. Imagine how much more you could learn if you take a course or two that will really expand your knowledge and truly contest your ideology, develop critical thinking skills or enhance your practical knowledge.

Hardship builds character. Hard classes build character. I can tell you from experience that getting an AB in a course I struggled in is so much more gratifying than an A in my favorite subject. I’m currently in a course that is making me question my decision to take it. It’s maddening, out of my element and, at the same time, fascinating and invigorating. I will probably have to work twice as hard to get the same grade as some of my classmates. But, in the end, it’s worth it. I’ll have knowledge of an area that complements my major and makes me a more rounded individual. Most importantly, I know I’ll face much greater adversity in courses in graduate school, so working this hard now will only pay off later.

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