An Open Letter to My Parents

by Bailey Bickerstaff

the final essay on failure

Dear Mom and Dad,

The school year has come to an end, and wow what a ride! We had so much fun together this year. I’ve seen success, and we laughed a lot together.

I made my first “B” in AP Physics this semester. I know you’re not upset about this, just disappointed for the lower grade, as I am also. Lately though, I’ve been questioning whether the reason for my disappointment is truly disappointment for the grade or disappointment because my perfect streak is over. Of course, I knew it would have to happen eventually, but it crept up on me a bit. It’s pretty ironic how, after all this talk on failure this semester, it happened. With all the lessons I’ve learned through my essays and experiences, I am prepared.

While I wish I had made an A in physics, I do not regret the B, because I know I did my best and gave my best effort. Let me explain why.

I’m proud of my work this semester. I gave AP Physics everything I had, but that sneaky trickster beat me in the last round. I’m proud of the fact that I fought for my grade to the very last buzzer.

I’m proud that I finished the semester with my integrity still intact. I saw a lot of my friends trade in their honesty for higher grades and along with it my trust. I’m glad that at the end of the day, I can say that though I made a lower grade, the work was completely mine.

I’m happy that I stepped out of my realm of comfort to try a harder class in a subject I do not feel at home in. As my swim coach used to say to me, ” Do you want to be the winner of the losers or the loser of the winners?”. He really pushed me to take big leaps into a larger field of skill. After this semester, I can tell him that I’m proudly bringing up the rear of a much more advanced field of thought. Though it’s not much, there’s something to be said for that.

Unfortunately, life does not always turn out how we want it to. John Green says that the world is not a wish-granting factory, and he would be right. But there’s always next semester. Don’t worry, I’ll be back and better than this semester next year. I am definitely not down for the count. In fact, I’m quite the opposite.

Mom, you told me right before the final exam to fight for my grade. This gave me a thought. That’s what we as humans do all the time: we fight for failure. We do not necessarily fight for our actual victories, we are fighting for our chance at a victory. Most of the time the odds are against us, so the thing we are fighting for, what we think is success, is really failure. When we fight and fail, we didn’t actually lose, we just accomplished the odds. We did accomplish something; we accomplished fighting hard for something we want. Sometimes the things we want are hidden from our knowledge. Sometimes we do not know what we want. However, thank you Mom for reminding me that my victories are not the only thing worth fighting for.

So I made a B. Life goes on. You guys were right; it’s only a number on a piece of paper. It doesn’t define who I am, who I am going to become, or the regard others hold me in. You have always told me that giving everything I have is enough for you; I gave everything I had. And for that, I am proud.

Back to swimming in college. I still don’t know what’s going to happen or what the future holds for me. I do have some clarity. I remember what you said when we visited SMU, your alma mater, Dad. You said that when you watched the informational video, you thought to yourself that you would do it all over: you would attend SMU again if given the choice. I don’t know what I will decide, but I do know that like my grades, I will have no regrets. I won’t sacrifice one part of my vision for the other, because I want to look back on all my experiences and choose to do it over exactly the same way.

Thank you for the lessons you taught me about failing; it is indeed a glorious experience.

Love forever,

Your Daughter


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