Patrick C. Keaveny

The Wordy Coder

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On a Serious Note…

Life | Musings

I’ve come a pretty long way since freshman year of high school.

When I went into high school, I wasn’t sure about anything. I was attending an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto, the kind of school where 98% of graduates were accepted into their college of choice, while the other 2% were usually drafted into the NHL or other major sport. Graduates of this school went on to play sports, become engineers, teach at higher levels, and found city-wide social work programs.

Then there was me. A kid who just moved to Toronto from Europe who didn’t know anyone, was really into theater, and wasn’t very remarkable in any aspect. The first report card of the year contained a lot of D’s and F’s, enough to warrant a meeting with the principal and my guidance counselor. They both wanted to know why I had been doing so poorly, and I told them about various things that could have contributed to my less-than-outstanding grades: bullying, not having many friends, feeling like I didn’t fit in, and not having any real study habits.

My parents had me enroll in tutoring after school, I tried to get involved with things like baseball, the jazz band, drumline, and other activities, and I tried to study more. But things didn’t improve much. By the time Christmas rolled around, I was still getting very bad grades, with the exception of Music. By March I was told by my science, math, religion, and english teachers that I would probably have to go to summer school if I wanted to pass the ninth grade.

I remember being very down for a long time. At one point, I even told a friend of mine that I didn’t think it mattered how hard I worked. My brothers and my friends were able to get by in school, and the only reason I couldn’t was because I just didn’t have what it took. “It doesn’t matter how much I study, how hard I work, or what I do, I’m still going to fail,” was something I said to my parents at one point.

The road to where I am now started at that point.

I decided that no matter what it took, I was going to pass that grade. I went home for a weekend and wrote notes on every paragraph in the chapter, I went to teachers before and after class with questions, I put my hand up in class and asked questions (even if they were stupid and incurred numerous “what are you, retarded?” comments from my classmates), I did all of the homework and worked above and beyond what I thought I could do. As the weeks went on, my teachers noticed. One teacher came to me after class and said I was the most improved student he had ever seen. Others said at the rate I was going, I would pass ninth grade, albeit with not the best grades. My family started to notice, and my last report card of the year contained all C’s and D’s, instead of D’s and F’s.

The road didn’t end there however, and I had to keep going, exhausted as I was. The end of tenth grade brought B’s and C’s, the end of eleventh brought B’s and a few A’s. By my senior year, I was on the honor roll.

And although I’ve had dips in grades occasionally, I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today. The kid who couldn’t retain information well, didn’t know how to study, and choked on tests is now graduating from a very respectable University on the honor roll.

The reason I write this is one, to mark how far I’ve come since high school, and two, in case whoever reads this is or knows someone who is struggling, that they can know that success is possible. I was told in high school that I wouldn’t go to College because I just wasn’t smart enough, and today my Dad is making plans for the family to travel to attend my graduation. Anything is possible if you work hard enough, as clich‌é as that sounds.

It’s a tough road to walk, full of obstacles and potholes and giant frigging snakes that try to gnaw your feet off, but sooner or later, you can get past them. If you stick to your guns and keep your goal in mind, with enough commitment, hard work, and ambition you’ll get there. I’m living proof of it.


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