What Failure did to Me
Roses Have Thorns
Education has always been a passion for me since my childhood, as it helps to boost my motivation, enhance my understanding, and most importantly, build my self-esteem. Over the years, I have always been nurtured by my parents to always take my education as a preeminent priority, and correspondingly, they kept ringing a bell in my ears that I should always put God first. Graciously, I girded up my loins and tried my possible best to serve God in honesty. I am from Nigeria and religion is a very important aspect of our day-to-day lives; a Nigerian without a specific religion is referred to as an infidel. Without any further digression, I have indeed faced many challenges academically, but the fact is that the end always turns out to be relieving and satisfying. Criticism, is one thing I hate so much, I always try my possible best to avoid doing things that will lead to such path, but it seems that nemesis sometimes finds its way through. Failure is mostly translated by people as a result of one's incapability-which might be true-but I found out that "failure is not the opposite of success, it is a part of success." The most challenging and yet interesting thing I have ever done is still all related to my education, but as I grew and began to escalate in my level of education, I finally discovered that roses also have thorns.
The Journey Begins
In the year 2008, I was in Junior Secondary School One (J.S 1), which is equivalent to the first year in high school here in the United States. It was indeed a great relief, knowing that I would gain some extent of personal freedom. As a little and ignorant child in a primary school (a school program before high school), I always believed that the higher you go academically, the easier it becomes, but little did I know. As I grew into adolescence, I came to realize that life is not what it really seems to be. In my second year in secondary school, the year 2009, my parents decided to send me to Oyo state (an inland state in Southwestern Nigeria), to live with my uncle. I was filled with tremendous joy, I just could not wait to get loose from my parents' constraint, it was a dream come true. My dad especially, is a no-nonsense man, he never condoned unseriousness, he was very strict and most times objective. But what did I know, I was just a child seeking profligacy. Haim Ginott, a child psychologist, once said "children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression." I did not care much about the things I will loose, leaving my parents' custody, even though they were the one who made the decision. Unbeknownst to me, my academic saliency was at the risk of dropping very low, which it did, because my uncle did not pay much attention to my educational progress. As we all know, there is no place like home.
While I was in my Senior Secondary School One (S.S 1), the year 2011, my parents had to come pick me up, when they also realized that I was not flourishing academically, like I did while I was still with them. I was not so happy, even if I had the choice not to go back with my parents, I would have taken it, but I had no choice. I was not aware of the love my parents had for me, I had a completely different perspective as to what they did, taking me back to themselves. Less than a week after getting back with my parents in Kwara State (Western Nigeria), I acclimatized. A lot had changed while I got back, I met my old friends once again, which was a relief, knowing I wouldn’t have to start a completely new life trying to relate with people I did not know.
Without any lag, my dad made rapid preparations for my school registration. His goal was to make me recover from what I had lost academically. Over a period of six months of rigorous and consistent studying with my dad, coupled with what I'm being taught in school, I finally regained my academic saliency and my dad was relieved of the burden my academic deficiency toted. I was also happy and felt a little bit relieved, knowing that I'm back to being my former self and even better. But that wasn’t all, the real challenge I had to face was still ahead of me.
The Unworthy Honor
I was now in my Senior Secondary School two (S.S 2), one more year for me to complete my high school education and then proceed to the University. It was then my dad travelled to the United States, the time I needed him the most. My school, then encouraged me to take a WAEC (West African Examination Council) exam, this is a compulsory examination that needs to be taken before anyone can be granted admission into a University/College. Normally, a student needs at least six years of secondary school education before he/she can be qualified to write the WAEC exam, but due to my little academic proficiency, my school pushed me ahead of myself. I saw it as an opportunity and at the same time, a challenge, because my dad wasn’t around to assist me in studying. Then it came to my realization that my dad will not always be with me, it is high time I took up a responsibility and make it a personal priority.
Finally, the exam began to knock at the door; it came earlier than I expected. I studied to the best of my ability, I went through sleepless nights, had a lot of group studying with my peers, all for the purpose of not disappointing my school and also making my dad proud. Eventually, the exam came and it took about a month and a half to get done with it, because a student will be tested on almost all subjects necessary. About 2-3 months after the exam, in the fullness of time, the results were released. I had never felt that nervous, as I kept hoping for success. The day I made up my mind to check the result, all I did was pray. I went to a nearby cybercafé, it took me forever to type in my login details, as my hands were shivering over the keyboard; but no matter how long it took me, I knew that day wouldn’t pass by without checking the result. Determinately, I checked the result and it was a humongous failure. I could not cry, I could not move, I even barely breathed. I felt so lugubrious, my thoughts were dry, my mind became shallow, the bright day suddenly turned dim, it was indeed cataclysmic. I called my dad, and interestingly, his words were comforting, I felt much relieved after hearing his words. I also told my mom about it, and likewise, her words motivated me. My parents' reaction towards my failure was unexpected, but that did not change the regretful and painful feeling I had.
After a month, I registered for a different exam, which served as a substitute for the WAEC exam I took previously. The exam I registered for is called NECO (National Examination Council) exam, I believed the experience I had with the WAEC exam wouldn’t repeat itself. I made a cockamamie mistake of not studying much for this exam, because I felt I had already studied enough, so all I did was just to revise on what I had studied for the previous exam. It turned out I was heading for the rocks. While I wrote the NECO exam, it was easier and I did it with much facile. Subsequently, the result was released, I had much confidence checking the result, I did not even panic. To my surprise, the NECO result was much worse than the previous WAEC I took. It was a failure again! This time around, I felt like the ground should open up and swallow me. The result was not even a bit close to what I expected. When I told my dad while he was still in the United States, he chastised me intensely. I was lucky he was not around during that period of time. I was expecting the same from my mom, but she was sober and felt really melancholicious. I just could not contain it, as I cried inwardly in regret of what I had brought upon myself. It was indeed a bummer.
I was now in my Senior Secondary School Three (S.S. 3), the year 2013, my final year in secondary/high school. Over the past six years, I have learned many different skills which I applied everywhere possible. I knew my strengths and weaknesses, my capabilities and incapabilities, my hobbies and dislikes. I had learnt a lot about myself and about others as well. I felt ready to face the challenges life brings my way, I became a man in my sense of reasoning, even though I was still a teenage boy. I felt older than my age, due to my past experiences. This time around, I committed my actions into God's hands. I remembered what my parents had told me, "always put God first." Long before I registered for my next WAEC examination, which I hoped would be my last, I had already started studying profusiously for the exam. I had no time to waste time. I had a reading schedule, which I followed strictly and diligently. Discipline became my watchword. I became scarce around my friends; people barely knew where I was, because I was always indoor studying. The exam date came as usual, as I was already used to such. I wrote the exam with enthusiasm and fear. I gave the exam my best shot, I never relented at any moment, as I kept reading over and over again during the course of the exam. The exam was a little bit difficult compared to what I had written before, but that even encouraged me more. I finished the exam and of course, I hoped for the best. I prayed almost every day, relentlessly. My parents also supported me with prayers, that is the best we could all do. One fateful day, I received an alert on my mobile phone from the WAEC management office, with a message that reads, "your result has been released." it was so relieving knowing my results had been released. Immediately. I went to a nearby cybercafé without my parent's consent to check it out. After two exams of abject failure, this one turned out to be a success. What a relief! For the first time in my life, I experienced what is called "an inexpressible joy." I told my parents and the joy they felt was beyond what words can express. That same year, I applied for the University of my choice (the University of Ilorin) and I was granted the admission to study Sociology. I was really favored by God, beyond what I actually worked and asked for. It was a miracle and a dream come true.
Thanks to Failure
"We can complain that roses have thorns, but we can also rejoice that thorns have roses." My experience has taught me that failure is what makes success really worth it. If I had not failed those two exams I wrote, I might not be what/who I am today. The failure I went through, helped me discover my true self, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and set me on the path of great achievement, it opened my eyes to see what life is really worth, it showed me how weak I was and out of my weakness came strength. Failures are part of life, if we do not fail we do not learn and if we do not learn we will never change. I went from failure to failure, but the things I held onto was my enthusiasm, hope, and most of all, my faith in God. Thanks to failure.