For an obvious reason, some childhood memories get stamped on our minds forever. Failing in Class 4, way back in the 1990s, is one of them.
I was joyfully playing in my home’s courtyard when the result card landed from my boarding school at Chandigarh. My father received it from the postman. My heart raced as he called me, and instantly began opening the envelope, oblivious of what he and I were about to encounter — overall result, ‘Failed’, pointed in red.
Suddenly, I got enveloped in shock and silence, and this silence washed over the entire home, within no minute after everyone came to know of the tragic result. Soon everyone encircled me, peppering me with questions I couldn’t answer. Some comments made me feel that it’s the end of the world, and darkness is all left for me, though there was an open option from the school to repeat the class.
But everyone was against this step, for the embarrassment it could bring to me in the school and to the family from neighbours and relatives. Why let the year go waste by being in the same class, was my parents’ view. Hence, I was brought back to the home town Amritsar, where I was admitted to a new school which was ready to accept me in the next grade.
To avoid any embarrassment, I vividly remember, we also dropped the idea of visiting the hostel to get home many of my belongings, after we decided to leave that boarding school.
“Don’t tell anyone that you failed, in or outside the school,” I was told. It was, in fact, a constant reminder which was enough to eat into my confidence, and I often whispered to myself, “I am a failure.” All my zeal that children usually carry was gone and it had such an influence on me that I feared sharing about it with anyone so far.
Now nearly three decades later, thinking about it still saddens me, and I wish my elders had reacted differently to it. But if thought deeply, it was not their fault as we all are programmed for how to be successful and not at all programmed for handling failures in life, of any kind. Failures are rather seen as a shame.
It’s an irony that little has changed even today, but only worsened, considering the rising number of suicides especially by youngsters the moment examination results are announced. There are those who end their lives just because they could not score as they expected, and many such cases are also of those whose score 80s and 90s. Should we not blame their parents too?
Generally, in our journey of life, we often face failures or situations that don’t usually turn out the way we want to but most of us forget that instead of sinking into grief, we should pick lessons from failures and move on. They teach us much more than any success can, however tall it may be. These lessons can make us stronger and smarter.
Moreover, life keeps presenting us with various phases and not all days are always going to be the same, but how we face them, including any failures being thrown at us by them matters. After all, our right attitude will keep us afloat.
This quote by Thomas Edison, while he tried inventing the electric bulb, underlines how our attitude should be towards failures: “I have not failed. I have just found 10, 000 ways that won’t work.” And success came roaring to him!