The email I had been dreading was finally in my inbox. A part of me was hoping that I had still made it, as I always had. But no. I blinked and stared at the email in horror. My hands trembled as I tried to make out the final first semester results. My heart was racing wildly and I felt breathless. “How could it be?”, the question screamed in my head. “I knew I couldn’t do it.” With tears pouring down my cheeks, I started to think how I was going to explain this to my parents. Their first-born daughter who had never failed before, had failed her first semester of final year and would not be graduating in March 2016 with the rest of her peers.
“Me Fail? What? Why? I’ve never failed in my life, why now?” These were the questions that continued to ring in my head.
Final year was the most difficult year of university, as I felt the gear went from one to five and I couldn’t clutch balance. The coasting had finally caught up with me. Failing Philosophy was a painfully embarrassing and humbling experience.
When I got to Wits in 2013, I was not entirely sure what subjects I wanted to study for my BA or what I wanted to do after graduating for that matter. All I knew was that I wanted to be in the media space and become one of the greatest writers. After much convincing from my father, I begrudgingly took Philosophy as one of my majors.
For a long time, I thought it was a big mistake to major in Philosophy. But after receiving the results, I realised that I had already failed long before the actual failure. My negative attitude and fear of failure was my biggest downfall and greatly contributed to me failing. I never even gave myself a chance to excel in the subject.
Yes, failure sucks. I’d scroll through my social media feeds and most of my friends and peers were graduating, getting their “dream” jobs and moving on up. However, in 2016 when I registered to repeat my two modules of Philosophy and got a job to keep busy – I had a reenergised drive. I remained focused on my goals and self-improvement. I saw my failure as a new starting point. I re-evaluated my priorities and became more constructive with balancing my studies and all my other responsibilities. I made a structured plan of things I wanted to achieve that year. I began to consult with the lecturers, read more philosophical material beyond the course content and did one thing every day that ensured I would succeed in all my plans.
My family, friends and boyfriend were my number one supporters. They helped and encouraged me to overcome my failure, assisting me to find effective strategies to succeed. They reminded me that everyone fails at some point and I was not defined by it – letting me vent and purge the negativity.
I have learned that success doesn’t have a set path. It’s okay sometimes to be confused. Try new things and find your calling and, once you do, pursue it with your whole heart. The year 2016 was my year to find myself and what I truly wanted from life. I am not a quitter and owed it to myself to make all my dreams happen.
Life will bring many great successes and achievements. You will also experience disappointments and setbacks. Obviously, we would all opt for success over failure, but what matters is not success or failure, but how you deal with both and learn from them. Whatever I do in life, I now always remember to give it my best. Failure is only for a short period, but can be a stepping stone to success.
Dream beyond logic and work for it. It is never too late or early to go out there and get what you want.
In the end, I completed my Honours in Journalism and Media Studies in 2017 and got my dream job as a journalist.