It was the summer of 1998. I was accompanying my maternal aunt for some shopping.
It was final exam result day. My parent or I could not go to collect my result. I called my school to check on my 8th grade result.
I vividly remember standing in a sweet shop and using a coin calling telephone to make that call. The landline on the other end rang for a couple of times before being answered. I shared my class, division and roll number and requested to know the results. I was holding my breath as I waited for the school clerk to check the result. I could hear her turning the pages on her desk as she checked.
Finally she said, ‘You have failed!’
I was in shock. I did not know how to react.
This was a big blow, the world was spinning around me.
How was I going to break this news to my mom?
What are my friends going to think about me?
I am going to be labelled repeater in my class.
Now all my friends will move to the next grade and I will not have any friends in my class!
Oh God! All my friends and family members are going to think I am dumb!
When the relatives ask for my percentage, how will I tell them that I failed?!
My first taste of major failure in life and the resulting anxiety!
When my mom saw me on my return from the shopping she knew something was wrong. I was ashamed, and I knew that my mom would be disappointed with me. In a feeble voice, I shared the news of my failure. I could not bear to make eye contact with her.
My beautiful strong mother is a hard working independent woman who built herself from scratch. She knew that it had been a difficult year for me due to some problems we were experiencing in the family at that time.
She calmly sat me down on the bed and said,’ Rucha, you are smart and intelligent. Don’t let this failure define you. Study and excel in the next exam. And don’t bother about what other’s say. You know who you are and what you are capable of. Just believe in yourself.”
That is what I needed to hear, I concentrated on my studies and excelled in the following exams. Though, self doubt does peak its ugly head from time to time, I don’t invite it to stay.
Lessons learned –
– Failures and success are part of the life experience. They don’t define us – unless we let them.
– Filter out unhelpful opinions. Because opinions are just that, opinions. Even if they come from within you in the form of self doubt.
It is easy for us to internalize our successes and failure. Many people say, ‘I am a success/failure!’ and that is just not true. These are experiences and hence this can keep changing through the course of life.
Let’s change this sentence to, ‘I am experiencing Success/Failure.’ So that when there is change in situation, it does not disturb our sense of self – our Identity.