Damien Salahieh: 159,490 minutes remaining

Damien Salahieh, cartoonist

“How do you allow yourself to fail?”—a question I constantly receive. Usually throughout the quarter, D’s, C’s, and F’s plague my PowerSchool. For the longest time, I shamed myself for my grades. For years I struggled with school — little things like paying attention and taking notes have always been hard for me. I would drift off into my own world, and class would be over by the time I found my way back.

Realizing that I learned differently from the other students came as no surprise. In the seventh grade, I was diagnosed with severe ADHD, and although putting a name to the problem was reassuring, it didn’t help solve the problem. I found myself year after year experimenting through trial and error to find out what else could work for me. Working with people and without, working at home and going out. However, even after finally understanding myself and how I worked, I still could not manage to get my grades up. I would complete every math assignment, and I would engage in class discussions— yet I would still end up bombing the test. I was getting bad grades anyways so I found no point in stressing over them. Some days I wouldn’t bother to show up to school, other days I would sit in class and refuse to even try.

After years of hating myself for my grades, and defining my self-worth based on them, I found that all I could do was try my best. I know that I’m smart, and although my grades are important, they do not represent me, or my intelligence.