In this blog I’m going to share a few failures I had in high school, which at the time I thought were the end of the world, but in retrospect, really don’t add up to much.

Some people say if you’re not failing, you’re not trying enough. Regardless, despite these failures, everything worked out and I still got into Stanford and my high school legacy was not eternally ruined by a few flubs.

1. I didn’t make districts in band junior year.

Sophomore year, I not only made districts for band, I made state band. I was basically the only non-upperclassman from my school to make state. I think I was one of two sophomores in the whole state to make state band/orchestra. Basically I crushed it.

I came back for district auditions sophomore year, and for some reason, my name never made the call list for auditions that was posted each hour or two throughout the day. Another Brooke Hanson from another high school did, but clearly her high school and registration number didn’t match mine. By the end of the day, they said they were done with auditions, and it was a whole ordeal trying to figure out why I wasn’t called. Turned out they saw the two Brooke Hansons and scratched my entry from the list, believing we were the same person despite the fact we were listed under two different high schools.

I was allowed a last minute audition, but I was flustered, and felt as though the judges weren’t even listening to me (I swear they already published the list of selected players). I didn’t even make districts that year (something numerous people from my high school did…). At least senior year I made state again, this time the Orchestra (top 3-4 players in the state) and was the piccolo player (i.e. the #1 piccolo in the state :)). So not a bad recovery.

2. I didn’t make honor choir senior year.

Junior year I made our choir’s honor singing group, an extracurricular group of singers that would do community events, nursing home shows and the like. I was one of the top performers that year at auditions. Senior year I auditioned again, a bit more nervous but not what I would deem terrible, and I didn’t make the group at all. I quit choir entirely and dug into theater and band. C’est la Vie.

3. I got a 2 on the BC Calculus exam.

Senior year I had the brilliant idea of taking an AP exam for which my high school did not offer the class. Note: don’t try this at home. Senioritis took over by March, I had a mediocre AP Calculus AB teacher to begin with, and well, let’s just say I did zero studying for the exam. I don’t think I mentioned this on my Stanford application… I did come back in college and get an A in Calculus, though, just to prove to myself I could do it (math power!).

4. I didn’t make varsity cheerleading senior year.

Junior year I was on the JV cheer squad, a year when some of my peers made varsity. By senior year though, you had to make varsity as you can’t stay on JV as a senior. Well, overloaded and too busy with theater tech rehearsals and AP classes, I didn’t make it; I knew my audition wasn’t the best, but it was the best I could manage with all my other commitments. Then a few months later one girl on the squad announced she was transferring to private school, a slot opened, and I was invited to join the team before the season even started. I did, and so many people at my high school had no idea I actually had failed.

Many times failing feels like the world is ending. It’s not. Life will go on and you’ll find other ways to succeed, whether by pursing the same activity or switching course.

At the end of the day I still got into Stanford. I was musician of the year at my high school, played in the youth symphony, got parts in school plays, was nominated for all-school awards, got pretty great grades, graduated in the top 2% of my class and had pretty good test scores. I had enough going for me that some failures didn’t spell the end, but that doesn’t mean I was or anyone is perfect. We all have successes and failures. That’s life, people!

More than where you go to school, what clubs or teams you make, or what grades you get, you and your resilience determine who YOU are. #grit