The first question that comes to mind when you see your grades highlighted in red, an ‘F’ stamped everywhere on your marks-sheet isn’t ‘What now?’
You ask yourself- Why? How could this happen to me?
I had a list of reasons which kept circling in my head- what could I blame? Was it the constant fights, spats, and breakdowns I had in the course of my relationship? Was it the constant, unrelenting pressure from my parents to ‘make them proud’? What could hurt more than knowing that they had to now walk around their family and friends feeling ashamed of their son? In retrospect, I can’t narrow it down to any single reason; it was a combination of a lot of little things.
After the shock wears off, the part that gets to you is the realization of failure itself; you failed the ones that believed in you and you failed yourself. The pain is paradoxical; it both consumes your mind and thoughts all day, all week, all year, but drains you and your being of any real, sustainable emotions.
Now a year later, I can admit that I didn’t have what it took to face the uphill climb ahead of me. It’s strange; you have billionaires, scientists, and influencers talking about how all the magic of success lies in failing, but none of them ever tell you how to actually deal with it and convert it into something fruitful. They say ‘learn from your mistakes’, but how can you do that when you can’t even face those mistakes?
Now the obvious answer is to make the most of it. So, I let myself mope around for the next few months going from one distraction to the next without ever thinking about what I was distracting myself from. There was a bigger problem lurking just below the surface; my self-confidence was shattered and that bothered me as I tried to prepare for the exams the second time around. I could always think that I was perfectly intelligent, capable of passing my papers if I bothered to make an effort. But one thought nagged at me, with not a shred of self-esteem to protect me; what if I actually try and still fail for the second time, would I be able to handle that?
I was too scared to find out.
I didn’t have classes. I realized I’d never get to see the classmates I saw every day in class. Our schedules, our free time, nothing would coincide anymore. My friends helped me a lot initially, but how much could they help when they couldn’t begin to understand how much my life had changed? They got to go off to class and resume their lives while I was sitting in my room, just waiting for hours to pass.
How did I get out of this? Turns out, even if they didn’t understand, they cared about me. I had a friend schedule an appointment with a counselor at the student support centre. I realized something; at any cost, I had to get out of this slump. Something was wrong and while I wasn’t sure how to fix it, I had to start somewhere. So, I started slow and got back to doing the things I enjoyed; I wanted to feel happy again. Playing basketball every day made a difference. I pushed myself to go out and stay amongst people. I made some of my best memories when I got back to being myself.
My next task was the essence of my problem; how do I start studying again?
It starts with just trying. I had people helping at every step, forcing me to write my internal exam, helping me study, and some days, physically dragging me to the library. I kept pushing myself to do better, to be better. Every day wasn’t a success or a day where I was proud of myself. But the important thing as it turns out is to never give up on yourself, no matter how ashamed, guilty, or broken you feel.
Failure itself is not something that defines a person, but what helps define a person by giving them an opportunity to grow and learn from it.
Written by Srivatsav Gadepalli for MTTN
Edited by Mihika Antonia Dean for MTTN
Featured image by theknowledgereview.com
Artwork by telanganatoday.com