One would hardly use the words failure and gratitude in the same sentence. If you think about it, no one ever wants to fail in anything they do. I consider myself a perfectionist so failure is something I don’t really like, however, I am slowly trying to accept it and I understand that at times what I would consider as a failure is actually an opportunity for me to learn something or it just occurred to stop me from continuing on the path that is not good for me in the long term. I experienced this a few years ago. To this day I am grateful for that failure because looking back I would not be where I am if that failure had not happened.
When I completed high school I headed off to University, I was offered two scholarships and life was awesome. At that point everything was going well, I adjusted very well into University because I just continued the way I was at home. The only difference was that no one was there to tell you to go and study, that was up to me, that part I guess I took for granted. I didn’t do too bad in my tests but it was not the grades I was used to. Fast forward December I got my results and I had failed one of my majors, I was not really concerned as I had the chance to rewrite before school started. I studied hard for it and was confident I was going to pass, the result came back and I had failed it again. The first thing I felt was embarrassment and guilt for disappointing my family. I remember going to meet my older sister to tell her the news, I asked her that we go to the head of department to ask if they could not remark my script because there was no way I had failed that module again. The HOD told me something that I carried with me to this day however there was nothing he could do to change my situation. I had no choice but to go home for a semester. Those six months felt like forever but they where made bearable by my family’s support.
I eventually went back to university, just less interested in the course I was doing but more determined to finish it and just leave. My time away however opened my eyes to who my real friends were, it is true when they say when times are dark friends are few, texts and calls were few and far apart. When I think about it now that’s one of the things I am grateful for, I learned to appreciate the true friends I had and I try to be there for people I care for. The second thing I am grateful for is the determination I gained that allowed me to complete a degree that I had little interest in just so I move on. I would describe it as blindly doing something and succeeding in the end. The third lesson I learned from that experience was that at times you might fail but that doesn’t mean you as the individual are a failure, I learned to detach myself from things, that failure didn’t define me it changed the way I looked at things in my life. Finally, failure may hurt when it happens but you need to make the decision whether you are going to wallow in it or you are going to learn all you can from it and move on a better person.
I remember sitting in the HOD’s office and looking at him with tear soaked eyes, thinking to myself: “Can’t he see that my life is almost over because of this”. He took a science book from his shelf and showed me an article where his work was referenced. He went on to tell me that looking at his name in print you would never guess that he had failed grade 3 so failure is a temporary thing, you learn from it and move on to achieve greater things. This was a man who is a peer reviewed author and Professor. Those words comforted me and today I too can show someone my peer reviewed article and no one would guess that it was written by someone who failed their first year at university.