The Power of Grit.

“Ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort”

Growing up I was always seen as the “weaker” student compared to my fellow peers. Whether it be starting off in French immersion school and being told I couldn’t handle it or starting off grade one having to be taught to read privately or even moving to grade 5 and not being able to keep up with my peers in math or writing. I was told with my grades I would never move on to university by my own parents.

However, upon watching this Ted Talk I realize how much the power of grit has impacted my own life. Whether it be the story of grade 1 me who not only learned to read, but learned to read at such a pace that I advanced beyond that of my peers to the extent on a standardized test only 4% of students would have surpassed me. Let alone move to grade 5 where with working with my teacher privately I surpassed everyone’s expectations and learned to write in cursive and improve my mathematical abilities. It was also that same teacher that recognized my potential and pushed me to do better knowing that I needed a bit of a push to get started.

It was the comparison have having friends that were all gifted or in advanced placement that pushed me to do and be better to not be the one that was always behind. ¬†Even in comparison to my sister who spends hours studying, reading and perfecting her notes even today in a top law school, I was always seen as the “lazy” one because I never tried as hard or put in as much effort to get the same grades. Whether it be in music, physical education, or even school work I was determined to beat the expectations that were placed upon me by others. I would spend hours listening to lecture or practicing to be better than those around me and I was determined to try my best. While I don’t put in the effort most students do, I have developed strategies that work for me whether it just be attending lectures and listening or skimming over the text book a few times or even re-listening to lectures on my own time. I was and always have been determined to not settle for less and to get into not only some of the best schools but also some of the best programs. To some extent though I am lazy, I never had to try as hard as some of those around me to understand concepts or study for hours on end. I was also known as the stubborn kid by many teachers growing up who only put in her effort for things I wanted to do or to beat expectations.

I still remember sitting on the floor one day in my room back in gr.9 and flipping through books of university wondering how I would ever get in with a 71% average. To eventually graduating from a tough high school with and 87% average. Although I was often seen to struggle through high school with kids so smart it would blow your mind, i’m incredibly grateful for the determination, skill building, challenges it set for me because it prepared me well to compete in a university setting. Who would have thought I would spend 3 years on the Dean’s Honor list, with the one year me not making it was due to my major struggle with depression in my third year. Let alone go on to doing her Master’s at a top 20 school and competing with some of the best and brightest doctors and lawyers.

However, looking at things as a whole I never let failure stop me from achieving whatever it is I wanted to do. Anytime I experienced failure, I got back up and went to work in order to kick ass. I’ve had many setbacks in life whether it be emotionally, personally, or even academically but the one thing I can look at as a whole was my determination and oftentimes hard work set me apart from my peers. I was never viewed as the smartest kid growing up but you could ask any of my teachers and they would tell you I was often the most preserving and determined student. It’s amazing to think what grit can do to kids and setting a bright future for themselves.

Take a few minutes to watch this insightful talk ūüôā


Learning to Fail.

Today I arose from a deep slumber (perks of being sick) to the frantic texts of someone I care about, let alone to seeing them cry when I FaceTimed them.

It turns out they got a C+ on their one exam, when on their others they received a B and B+ respectively. While a C+ isn’t the greatest mark, it’s not the worst mark either. Upon trying to come up with a way to console them I decided the best way to go about it was to be honest and realistic. I’m not going to coddle someone and tell them life is all peaches and roses or even that life is always going to go how you expect it to, because in truth life has many unexpected bumps and blips and you can’t control that.

Marks don’t define who you are. Some of the most successful people in this world did not go to school or even if they did they did not complete their education, take for example Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs, Elton John and even ¬†Thomas Jefferson. These are all notable people who made significant contributions to our society who performed¬†somewhat poorly in school but used their intelligence, passions, and tenacious ambitions to crush it in the real world and will leave a lasting legacy.

In the real world, your grades don’t matter, as a nursing student I know this. You also can’t change what has happened in the past, especially when it comes to exams, papers, assignments, or even presentations. What you can change is your mind set and how you look at failure. School can be quite hard and takes a lot of time and effort. However, that doesn’t mean that an individual isn’t ambitious and full of talent. We all choose to apply ourselves differently and to different things and in an ideal world that is how we would be measured. Not by the letters on a piece of paper from our time in school.¬†In university, it’s all about grades. In the real world, it’s about experience, balls and drive. Because once you get past the first job, no one is ever going to ask you about your final GPA or how you did on that exam you bombed back in third year.

As a lawyer you are not going to win 100% of your cases, as a doctor you are not going to save every single one of your patients, and as a nurse you are going to miss signs and symptoms that could have potentially saved a patient from dying. But you know what? We are all human at the end of the day, mistakes happen, failure happens, and uncontrollable events arise. What we can work on is reflection, a concept i’m so glad has been emphasized early on in nursing school. We need to reflect on our experience, on our failures, and understanding what we did wrong or why something did not go to plan. It makes me angry to think that society has put such a negative stigma on things like bad grades or even failure in general. We shouldn’t be afraid to fail because success is really the ability to pick yourself back up from setbacks and how to we learn to improve things.

We can cry about menial things like not doing as well as you had hoped on an exam or a paper, but it doesn’t change anything. One exam is not going to decide your whole fate. As I pointed out earlier, marks DO NOT define you or what you know. They are often used as a gauge to see where you lie in comparison to your peers, but it doesn’t factor in some people can be better test takers or can simply read a textbook and not understand concepts deeply.We know now that there are is a variety of intelligences¬†and grades only measure a select few, and do so poorly. A exam or paper does not measure a person’s emotional intelligence, nor does it measure their leadership ability, it does not necessarily measure their ability to think outside of the box and solve problems. It does nothing to evaluate a person’s ability to predict the needs of society, patients, or consumers. It does nothing to illuminate the ability of an individual to work with others and find middle ground in standoffs or conflicts.¬†All of these things are vitally important to an individual’s success in the real world and in life in general and ironically almost none of them are measured by grades.

I’ve experienced failure many times, my first paper in my Master’s was 100% of my mark, I received a 48%. Was I crushed? Hell yeah, I was devastated, but the more I cried over it the stupider I realized it made me look. What I needed to do was understand why I got the mark I received, understand where I went wrong, and learn for future reference what I needed to improve upon. Turns out, I didn’t actually fail in the end upon talking with my supervisors about it and reviewing my paper to understand where and what I did wrong, but it gave me the grounding and fuel I needed to be successful on future papers in which I got a number of Merits and Distinctions. But what I took out of this situation was that a) in the moment I couldn’t change anything I could only change things going forward b) my mark did not define who I was as a person or speak against my intelligence (I was already in one of the top schools in the world) and c) failure is a part of life and in order to be successful you can’t take it personally and d) if you’re afraid to fail you are never going to grow as a person. I can honestly say i’ve learned more from my failures than I have from my successes and i’m so grateful i’ve had the opportunity to fall on my face because that allowed me to pick myself back up, learn, and move forward and into an even better spot.

What we can change and have control over is how we push forward and use our failure to better ourselves and learn! Life is all about learning and improving, there’s no point in sitting and crying over spilt milk. Use your failures and stumbles to become better, faster, and stronger and¬†use it as fuel to reach what it is you want. What matters most is the ability to pursue your goals and dreams and having a sense of purpose. Learn from your mistakes as the cliche goes.


Nurse in Progress.

For someone that came out of one of the toughest years of her life, I must say I am pretty proud of myself for pushing through. The struggle of feeling left down, unconfident in my abilities, and personal struggle led me to believe I wasn’t worthy of good things. That because of all my struggle I would be a failure and wouldn’t even make it through the first semester of nursing school. But I did it and I did damn fine. The nights I spent crying and very much struggling to stay focused and motivated paid off. I mean anatomy and physiology is a completely different story (ask anyone I swear!), I must say I have a renewed energy this year and I want the best for myself and my future.

Talking with one of my roommates this morning, I realize I need to set some resolutions for 2017. I’m tired of putting myself last. This year I vow to put myself first and I vow to become the best person I can possibly be. I want to do something for myself, so academically I want to maintain a 3.7 GPA or higher. Personally, I want to make decisions for myself and not be worried about what other people think using my own morals, values, feelings, and experiences. For fun, I want to learn French. It’s been three days of self-teaching myself, but I must say I am having a blast picking it up and hopefully my goal in the long-run is to become working proficient in allowing me to expand my horizons in either travel or even one day branching out into governance and policy making. Health wise, I want to eat more at home and luckily with the help of my other roommate pick up a healthy habit, which we’ve decided will be weekly yoga sessions.

Nursing school is hard. There is so much expectation and work placed on you, for someone that did degrees in health science and a master’s in ethics, nursing is a whole new level. It’s everything combined, ethics, science, arts, and skills building. But i’m taking it one day at a time, it’s all you can do really. I’m excited to be one step closer to writing the NCLEX-RN examination in 3.5 years and excited to become Megan Simpson, RN, BHSc, BScN, MA. As many tears I may cry, as much bile, excrement, sweat, or any other bodily fluid I may find myself covered in, and as much doubt that I may inevitably find myself having at points in time, I know one thing is certain- I am going to make a positive impact on the world around me. Because no matter how hard my day is, i’m never going to forget the reason why I want to become a nurse.

When times get tough, the tough get going. While I still have my struggles and anxieties, I will conquer nursing school and I will kick ass. Time and time again I put myself in a position to believe I wasn’t capable or that I was on the wrong path, and you know what? I am on the right path.

So here’s to being 1/8th a registered nurse.


Finding Strength

Sometimes you just need to step back and take a moment for yourself.

There’s only two options to dealing with the stresses in your life, you either take them in head on and push through or you walk away. But the struggles you face today can be a stepping stone to building your strength for tomorrow, so keep fighting.

Live for the moment.

Show compassion to yourself and others.

Keep your chin up.