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Into the Black

by Mark Sanchez
(Chula Vista CA)

Being a part of the International Baccalaureate program, I see friends freaking out regarding schoolwork and their grades on a daily basis. Once their work is graded or final grade is received, the friends with a less than satisfactory mark on their paper resorts to angrily bashing the teacher for their low score. After initial hostilities, they group up and take pity on one another for how unjustifiably cruel the teacher was and how they were set up for failure. On rare occasions, I join in the “pity party” and want to feel better about how my “terrible” teachers didn’t give me a fair chance to get an “A”. Choruses of “yeah” and “me too” go through the group then the conversation shifts to someone else’s complaints about essentially the same thing.
Like I mentioned, I only join the festivities on rare occasion. The majority of the time I look at the group puzzled and in disbelief at the fact that they blame someone else for something they could have prevented. It seems what is lacking as a whole is the sense of accountability for the result of one’s own actions. The reason for this is simply that it feels better to know that failure was not your fault but rather it was inevitable. Thus, we blame teachers for the effort we didn’t exert generally because of a combination of laziness and our sense of entitlement.
When I don’t plan on being a part of the “pity party,” I either buckle down and do my work or don’t do it and accept the fate that accompanies my choice. If this is the case and I get a lower grade than my peers, they ask why I don’t seem angry about my grade and I reply simply with the truth that I didn’t want a good grade badly enough. I am met with two reactions: the first is a scoff, and the second a confused look because my statement seems like a foreign concept. If the response be a scoff, the conversation ends and likely doesn’t come up again. If it be a confused look, I explain that I didn’t get a good grade because I made the choice not to study and instead did something more enjoyable. The latter case doesn’t happen very often; however, when it does, the look on their face makes it obvious that the idea of having to shoulder the blame isn’t enjoyable.
I will admit, knowing that every one of academic shortcomings was my own fault is no walk in the park; but at the same time it feels good to be in control of my own destiny.

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