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So, You Think You Peaked in 5th Grade?

We are the remnants of an explosion of stars, debris that clutters that universe. We are undeniably bright, and scattered into lost passions and desires. We are bundled messes of hope, passion and failure. Yet, we’re stumped.

It’s your first month in college, and you feel a little lost. You’re wondering if your major is truly right for you, if you’re as smart as your mom tells you you are, and if you’re going to truly live your greatest fear of mediocrity. You’re afraid you’ll fall short. You’re scared that you’ll be another statistic. You feel the impending doom of failure when you get your first C. You’ve only ever gotten A’s. You don’t feel worthy, smart, or successful.

You’re probably experiencing similar turmoil, or perhaps you know someone who is. The fact of the matter is that failure is inevitable and imperative. It’s essential to growth and is necessary to grow as a student, professional and individual. Throughout your adolescence, you’ve probably reigned victorious in many feats. Perhaps you were at the top of your class, lead in the play, or president of a prestigious organization. Suddenly, you’re thrust into an environment where everyone is as talented, or more talented than you are. You’ve come to a realization that you’re just another fish in an ocean of seahorses, sharks and turtles.

It’s likely that you’ve also been told your whole life that “you’re so smart” and “you’ll go so far in life.” While assurance is comforting, it can be debilitating when you suddenly don’t find the same validation through the same means. You are still the same capable human being. It’s easy to compare yourself to the masses, but it’s important to know that life is a marathon- not a sprint. We all operate at different levels, we encounter different paths in the road, and it’s entirely okay that you’re running a little slower than your peers because the destination isn’t moving. You are. This is a time for self reinvention. Your 20’s are your selfish years. Try the things you’ve always been too afraid to pursue. Skydive. Get a tattoo. Dye your hair the most unconventional color that you could think of. It can be as small as picking up a hobby. The point is to find yourself. Outside of the classroom, you are still a student of the universe. Never be too afraid to explore the world around you.

Don’t hang your head in strife or shame, instead be humbled about your story. We are all on a journey, the destination varies, but what is common amongst any young adult are the detours and speed bumps that we are bound to encounter along the way. I encourage you to feel discouraged. Stay challenged. Be tenacious because on the other side of tribulation and adversity, growth and rejuvenation are waiting for you to take agency. Failure is the greatest teacher. You’ll learn life lessons that you will never obtain being complacent. I get it; It’s unsettling to think that you won’t fulfill your standards of success. But, the good news is that success is subjective- it can be measured in various ways- whether it be in happiness, mental health, or wealth. Truly, the magnitude of what we as a society define as victorious is what we value as individuals. So, you think you’ve peaked in the 5th grade? You didn’t. You’re climbing tall mountains, be patient. Have faith, there’s pink skies ahead and a sky that is the limit.


About the Author

Irish Padilla in three words is a “work in progress.” She is currently a senior in high school and plans to major in Public Health on a pre med track. She is an intern for Free to Dream Magazine and hopes to inspire young girls that their dreams and aspirations are possible. She enjoys long walks in the dollar section of target and wants to raise a family of golden retrievers when she retires. Moreover she is a lover of the arts, freedom of expression and the pursuit of happiness. You can contact her at:

Insta: @irishpadilla

Twitter: @irishquesadilla

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