As someone who struggled through my early school years, academic excellence always seemed out of reach for me. I barely scraped by with average grades, more interested in goofing off than studying. I couldn’t comprehend why learning quadratic equations or memorizing dates in history class would ever matter in “real life.” My lack of motivation and self-discipline created major obstacles on my path to success.
It wasn’t until 10th grade, when I nearly failed my math class, that I realized I needed to take school more seriously. My parents sat me down and warned that without good grades, I could kiss college goodbye. As the first in my family to have the opportunity to attend university, that woke me up. I began reevaluating my priorities and habits. I knew deep inside I was capable of more if I set higher expectations for myself.
The transition took time. I had to consciously train better habits and ways of thinking. Instead of staring blankly or scribbling doodles on my notes, I forced myself to concentrate during lectures, highlight key information, and review it later. Bit by bit, comprehension improved. I went to teachers to address gaps in understanding instead of pretending I knew the material. Though it meant giving up time with friends, I diligently completed homework knowing falling behind would only overwhelm me later.
Beyond habits, developing confidence and resilience proved essential. I stopped defining myself as “not a math person” and adopted a growth mindset focused on progress through effort. Mistakes or poor quiz grades frustrated yet motivated me to dig deeper rather than give up. Before exams, I transformed anxiety into positive adrenaline, trusting in preparation over cramming. In this way, challenges along the path strengthened me.
Four years later, as I graduated with academic honors, I realized excellence is not some magical state of genius but the result of daily choices to show up and give your best. Though each person’s path differs, what leads to success remains the same: meaningful goals, patient perseverance, and self-compassion to weather the ups and downs.
If you feel lost unsure how to uplevel academically, take time to identify your “why”. Let your sense of purpose fuel motivation through extra effort. Analyze how you spend time each day and seek out wasted hours that could be reallocated more productively. Allow yourself to make and learn from mistakes rather than avoiding risk or difficulty. And on hard days when self-doubt creeps in, speak to yourself with the kindness and empathy you would a close friend in order to stay centered on what matters most.
With consistent practice cultivating supportive habits and mindsets rooted in purpose, your own path to excellence will unfold one step at a time. I encourage you to believe in your potential and have faith that the journey, not just the outcome, shapes who you become. Be patient but keep pushing yourself farther than feels comfortable. You are armed with more strength, courage and capability than you know.