So What if you Finish Last

Picture this…

You’re back in school again.

The school day hasn’t even begun yet, so you’re outside talking with your friends. You stand around outside the classroom as the morning breeze nips your face. Today’s conversation happens to center around a test that you have to take during your first period.

“How much did you study for it?” Your friend inquires as you look to your left and spot one of your classmates trying to get in a few more minutes of last minute studying.

“I studied over the weekend and then for a couple of hours last night,” you respond as you anxiously glance back over at your studying classmate and wonder if you should be doing the same thing. “What about you guys,” you ask as you look back over at your friends standing around you.

“I only studied last night,” one of your friends responds.

“I studied on my way to school this morning while my mom was driving me,” a third friend adds.

“I studied over the weekend too,” your final friend says as you catch his eye. “I felt pretty confident after I finished going over all of my notes.”

Just as you’re about to respond to your friend’s answer you hear the bell ring. Your heart skips a beat knowing that in just a matter of minutes you’ll be taking that test that you spent so much time studying for. Slowly, you make your way to your classroom as you start mentally going back over what you studied the previous night.

You take your seat at your desk and take out a pencil. Looking around the classroom, you see the rest of your classmates doing the same thing. The exam is already on your desk, so as soon as you connect your pencil to your piece of paper there’ll be no turning back.

“You’ve got this,” you whisper to yourself, as you take a peak at the first question on your test.

The minutes tick by as you methodically work your way through your test. About twenty minutes in to the test, you start to notice that some of your classmates are getting up to turn in their tests. You look back down at your test paper and realize that you’re only half way through with your own. “How can they be done already?” You think as you start bubbling in the answer to the last question you left off on.

As you continue to make your way through the rest of the test, more and more of your classmates turn in their finished exams and before you know it, you’re the only one left who’s still taking your test.

“Anyone else still working?” You hear your teacher ask as your classmates glance around the classroom to see if anyone still has an exam out.

As you raise your hand, your teacher makes eye contact with you and lets you know that you have 15 minutes left. Nodding, you turn your attention back to your test. You don’t mind that you’re last because you recognize that by taking this extra time to finish up you’ll have enough time to double check your work to make sure that you’ve answered each and every question in the way that you wanted to answer them.

Fifteen minutes pass by and right as you finish up double checking your answers you hear your teacher’s voice say, “Pencils down. Exams in.”

As you make your way up to the front of the classroom you confidently hand in your paper knowing that all of that studying and the extra time that you took to finish your test would give you the grade that you wanted.

You see I happened to be one of those test takers who took a long time to finish their test. I always studied hard, and I was always prepared for my test, but there are only a handful of times over the course of my time in school that I can remember not being one of the last people to turn in my test. And it never bothered me when I would see my classmates walk past my desk and hand in their test papers to the teacher because I knew that just because they finished first didn’t mean that they were going to do better than me. I took my time when I took my tests because I didn’t want to rush and mis-read a question and answer it wrong. I wanted to double and triple check my answers.  And many times, this extra time that I spent on my test ended up helping me to get a higher grade. Many times I would find a mistake, and taking the time to go over my answers allowed me to change my test to reflect the right answer.

Back then I knew that it didn’t matter who finished the test first and I’m sure you realized the same thing. Your success wasn’t dependent on whether you were the first to finish the test or the absolute last person to turn it in. It was dependent on the amount of effort you put in leading up to the test.

The same thing goes for life now. Just because you’re not in school anymore, doesn’t mean that you have to start worrying about who finishes first. You may look around and see your friends and family members doing wonderful things. They may be getting promotions at work and buying fancy new homes, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have those things too.

It’s just like taking a test…

Yes, others may finish before you, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to have enough time to finish too. Big things may be happening to everyone else but you right now, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to happen to you too. Positive thinker, if you’re putting in the work and preparation right now then you will finish your test one day. This extra time that you’re taking to finish just means that you’ll be all the more prepared when your day finally comes. The extra time is giving you a chance to make mistakes and to fix the mistakes before it’s too late. Your time may not come when you want or expect it to come, but when you do finish with your test you may end up having just as much to show for your effort as the people who turned theirs in sooner.

As you continue on with your life, I want you to always remember, “Just because you took longer than others, does not mean you failed.”

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