Big messy tears rolled down my face as I cried. My father asked why I was upset. I handed him the paper I wrote for my Freshman Composition class at the local community college. A big, fat, ugly, red C glared at me from the top of the paper I was holding. "I don't understand. What did I do wrong?"

My dad read the paper and then carefully said, "That paper deserves a C. If you turn that paper in at the high school you'll get an A. But for a college paper, that deserves a C." (He mentioned high school because I was still in high school at the time.)

I started to cry more. I always got A's.

After an emotional minute I pulled myself together and asked my father to explain. He went through the paper and showed me the issues he saw. He suggested I talk to the professor too. After talking to both my father and the professor, I knew what I had to learn and do. 

With my action plan in place I worked. I got a B on the next paper, and the one after that. I was thrilled with my first A in the class. I earned that mark, and I learned a lot. Thankfully, I managed to get an A in the class.

I learned a lot by finishing that class. I learned even more when I repeated it. The least important thing I learned was how to craft an essay.

• You might be the big fish in your pond, but there's always a bigger pond.
• New perspectives are good and help you keep an open mind.
• Finishing a difficult task and completing a difficult journey provide great internal satisfaction.
• Failure can be a good thing.