I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Deserve to be Inspired. Hosted by Positive Writer. This is a part of my story I hardly ever share, willingly, and I can count on one hand how many times I actually have. But reading that article on Positive Writer and reading and being inspired by so many entries, I have decided to share mine. Maybe, just maybe, someone might be inspired by mine.
I was going to have an extra year. All the moments leading up to this had shown clearly that this would be the outcome. It was inevitable. Still, it wasn’t any easier to take. I had hit rock bottom. My friends were going to graduate and I was going to be left behind. I was a failure and I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror without seeing how much I sucked. Being raised in an environment where intelligence was prized over anything else; you didn’t get top grades in class, of what good are you? I felt like I was worth nothing. I couldn’t even excel in school.
My time in school had been marked by one bad grade or the other, from one failure to the next. It seemed like every level I got to, there was some insurmountable hurdle that I had to struggle to climb not once, but twice. Sometimes, three times. None of my efforts seemed to be yielding anything. I was even too exhausted to fight, I just did the barest minimum. I had the let me just do this and get it over with mentality. This mentality replaced the let me put myself out of this misery and just end it, when I realised on top of everything else, that I was a coward, or maybe it was because I lacked strength or zeal for anything anyway, least of all, taking my own life.
I struggled, finished up the extra year and I was free from the four walls of the school. I was however not free from the fear and doubt that marked every step I took. I was a failure and would not amount to much. My self-confidence had been battered, in fact, it was non-existent at this point. I didn’t believe I had any good ideas or anything worth contributing to any conversation so I would rather not speak. I was dying inside. But the journey wasn’t over. I still had to go to law school. For everybody around me, that was the most logical thing to do, study law for 5 years at the University, go to law school, pass the bar and be certified as a lawyer. So really, it was the logical thing to do. I didn’t want to. I couldn’t excel in my undergrad days, there was no way I could see myself passing the bar. Except all hell freezes over. But then I had a eureka moment when I heard of a senior colleague who had aced the bar. What if I do this to prove to myself that I’m not a failure? That I am intelligent and can actually succeed at something?
So off to law school, I went. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but in hindsight, it was well worth it because I was able to find myself again. I realised that I could be taught something, understand it and actually remember it. I made friends who told me how intelligent they think I am. My mind rejected this at first because I was so deep under that sea of self-loathing that I couldn’t recognise the lifelines tossed my way. Slowly but surely, I started coming out of it.
This experience taught me that one must never determine their self-worth by their present circumstances. I totally let my bad grades define who I was and it made me feel defeated that I couldn’t even put up the necessary fight I needed to change that story.
Another thing I learned is the power of relationships. It was the friends I made at this point in my life that made me realise certain things about myself that I didn’t even know existed. They were my support systems, my lifelines and they had no idea how much encouragement and strength I drew from them. As a result of this, I try to always have a kind word for everybody around me cos you never know the demons people battle in their minds. Never close yourself to people. Surround yourself with positivity and positive people. It makes a world of difference. A good friend is like a balm for an aching heart.
And finally, I learned that I am stronger than I think I am. We oftentimes allow the challenges we face weigh us down and get us to a point where we think we are powerless to do anything about them. We carry so much strength on our insides. The strength to keep going even in the toughest of situations. Those challenges come to make us stronger and most times, they are hurdles we must cross on our journey.
In hindsight, I am all the better for this experience because now, even when I feel discouraged, I know that I have the capacity to keep going because these hard times never last forever.