My Mis­take

A tale of two pre­sen­ta­tions

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Elsa Sichrovsky Elsa Sichrovsky is a free­lance writer. She lives with her fam­ily in Tai­wan.

I gen­er­ally con­sider my­self a for­giv­ing and “nice” per­son, but I had an ex­pe­ri­ence in my sopho­more year that tested my abil­ity to for­give. My class­mate Matt and I were paired up to do a pre­sen­ta­tion about mod­ern English lit­er­a­ture, and Matt got on my nerves from the start.

My nit­picky and de­mand­ing work habits conflicted with Matt’s spon­ta­neous ap­proach to the project. He was fre­quently late for sched­uled dis­cus­sions, and he con­tin­u­ally ne­glected de­tails I felt were im­por­tant. To top things off, he was also of­ten late in com­plet­ing his parts of our project, de­spite my in­creas­ingly fran­tic text mes­sage re­minders.

Only three days be­fore the pre­sen­ta­tion, I re­al­ized Matt hadn’t com­pleted the fi­nal por­tion he was re­spon­si­ble for, and I was un­able to reach him. Matt fi­nally up­loaded a hastily con­trived con­clu­sion only hours be­fore the dead­line, apol­o­giz­ing and ex­plain­ing that he had been pre­oc­cu­pied with an­other as­sign­ment.

As I ex­pected, our pre­sen­ta­tion failed to sat­isfy the pro­fes­sor, and while he enu­mer­ated our team’s many fail­ings, I was burn­ing with re­sent­ment to­ward Matt. But he didn’t seem too dis­turbed, and I heard from a friend that he felt he’d done his part well. Since there was no sat­is­fac­tion in snub­bing a per­son who didn’t think he’d done any­thing wrong, I re­mained out­wardly po­lite and con­grat­u­lated my­self for be­ing so mag­nan­i­mous to one so un­de­serv­ing.

Two months later, in an­other class, I was paired up with Ce­line to do a pre­sen­ta­tion about Ja­panese gram­mar. I be­lieved I’d done my best to pre­pare, but it be­came ap­par­ent dur­ing our team’s Q&A that I’d com­pletely mis­un­der­stood some of the con­cepts we were pre­sent­ing, and our team again got a bad score. I ex­pected Ce­line to be up­set, since it had clearly been my fault, but in­stead, she con­soled me and helped me make the needed ad­just­ments to the fi­nal ver­sion. Ce­line’s ready for­give­ness pro­voked some soul-search­ing, as her re­sponse to my fail­ure con­trasted with my re­sent­ment to­ward Matt.

As I thought back over the last few weeks, I re­al­ized that I hadn’t re­ally for­given Matt and had been un­able to re­strain my­self from mak­ing some snide re­marks about him to my friends. While Matt had been late and per­haps even un­in­ter­ested, it was painfully clear that I too could be a care­less stu­dent who caused a team to fail. I’d thought of my­self as tol­er­ant and mer­ci­ful, but my re­sponse to Matt showed oth­er­wise. Though I hadn’t de­served mercy, Ce­line had given it to me freely and with­out con­de­scen­sion. I prayed that through this ex­pe­ri­ence I could gain some of the lov­ing, hum­ble gen­eros­ity of spirit that comes from know­ing that we are all fal­li­ble hu­mans who need the for­give­ness of those around us.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from International

© PressReader. All rights reserved.