We pass through many phases throughout our life. Leaps and bounds, slow and steady, or at times we dip into potholes as well. Over the years, the person within us transforms, for better, or worse. It is always our inner demons that we fight relentlessly.
I was an introvert child. I used to hide in one corner of the room during any family get-togethers. I was so much scared of mingling, that I refused to go to anybody’s house. My withdrawn behavior usually irked my mom. She tried to help me overcome my fear in many ways but all in vain.
I didn’t give in. I had my own reasons, which I never shared with anyone other than myself. “Less communication meant less inquisition,” I appeased my little self. I found solace in only one companion; that is my books.
Though I loved to read, yet I never made it to the toppers’ list published by the school at the end of each academic year. I never regretted it. However, not shining in the limelight for consecutively so many years, sometimes made me sad.
“Why I can’t be there?” I was curious. I was a good student who carried 85 to 90 percentile each year initially but wasn’t amongst the best. I never had any ambition or clear career choices, unlike most of my peers. In a few years of dismay, I was gearing up to appear for the Board Exams in 10th grade.
“I must do something this time,” I was determined. I didn’t have to please anyone but for the health of my own mind. The board results were published, leaving me in despair. It was not as good as I expected it to be.
After a good bout of crying, I recovered, wiped my tears, and buckled up for the two most struggling years of school life. Appearing for +2 grades was no joke. My performance was consistently deteriorating. More than anything else, I feared to fail.
I tried hard but failed to have a grip on life. My performance graph deteriorated in school, in extracurricular classes, and everywhere else for no real reasons. Neither I had not fallen in love, nor I had access to mobiles or internet back then to distract me.
There were no evident reasons which are usually held responsible for such deplorable academic performance. It was just the fear of failure, which captured my inner strength.
I tried my best and sank into the textbooks, but nothing seemed to register in my mind. I was not suffering from depression, either. Or was I? All I felt that there’s time, still I could make up for the loss.
Yet, success doesn’t come when you just need it. There were more disasters. I failed in two subjects in the first formative assessments. My class teacher voiced her concern for my academics to my parents during the PTM. “She should better improve, or I am afraid she might not be able to appear for the Board Exams.”
Two months later, I delivered another disastrous performance during the mid-terms. This time also I was unable to pass in all subjects. My father was summoned to the principal’s office. I accompanied him, burning with shame and guilt. He entered the office, and I was asked to wait outside.
I had failed yet again. “What will happen to me now? What will they decide? I waited anxiously to hear her decision. Every moment seemed like a decade. “Considering her performances, I doubt whether she will be able to appear for the Board Exams. “Her calm, composed voice slowly hit my ears.
I was confused and concerned about my father, “What is he thinking of me?” Never, in all my life, had my parents been subjected to this embarrassment. Let alone a special meeting in principal’s office. I was always a good student, though not a topper. The PTMs were usually a cakewalk for them. Where have I landed them in the last two years?”
With tears rolling down my cheeks, I felt helpless, devasted, shattered. “Not allowed to appear for examination? What will I do now? I heard my father’s voice, “I request you to please give it a second thought, please. Though I know, I don’t have the right to say, yet it is about her life and future.”
After a lot of persuasions, she agreed to give me a second chance, and I had to appear for a retest. Somehow, I could clear all the tests. The remaining few months just flew off, and I performed for Board Exams.
This result was to decide my life and future, and I worked hard but always feared to fail. Finally, the results were out. I managed to score 62.5% in aggregate. This was nothing as compared to the prevalent grades required to crack admission in any of the reputed colleges.
Amidst a school full of laughter and gales, I secretly took my result and came back home. I didn’t dare to bid adieu to my friends or the school, which had been a part of my existence for the last fifteen years.
I was angry and ashamed of myself. Depression engulfed me. I appeared for many entrance exams but was confident that it was all futile. I won’t be able to clear even a single one of them. I will only be married in a few years and end being a housemaker with no professional life.
I sat by the window of my room throughout the day in silence. I had cut off communications with the outside world, even with my parents. I consciously avoided my tutors and their calls.
All-day long, my mind kept whispering in my ears. “If only I had worked my best to overcome my fears, I wouldn’t have been through this pain now.” My parents now seemed to be concerned about my isolation.
One fine day, my mother sat beside me with a cup of tea, “One bad grade doesn’t define your entire life. We all make mistakes, but this how we learn. Your failures are the biggest learnings of your life. Get up and move on. Let the bygones be bygones. Holding the past grudges will only make you sick, and won’t lead you anywhere.”
Her words infused new energy in me. It was just one battle lost, but I can still prepare for the next. I will not lose it anymore.
That day, I rediscovered myself and put my heart and soul again in books, this time with all armours on. The trauma crept into my mind now and then, but I ignored it. I motivated myself to push my limits each day.
I secured the first rank in the entrance exams for Nursing Course. Finally, I won the battle with my inner self and emerged shining brightly out of my shell. I was all set to embark on a new journey that could decide my future.
The day before leaving for the hostel, my mother smiled at me and said, “Give yourself a second chance always. Get that board result out of your head forever. I know you can. I trust you.”
I started to believe in myself and my capabilities. I knew that “Yes, I can, and I must do it.”
I topped my college in the first year. Since then, there has been no looking back. I changed my introvert self and started sharing and opening up with my friends. The burden seemed lighter. Over the years, my dampened confidence grew, and I began to value time.
I finally defeated my inner demons. I will always remain grateful to my parents and friends who stood by my side during the most challenging phase of my life, just like a rock-solid pillar of strength. I will always owe it to them to bring me out of my own shell and get over the fear of failure. I can now pull myself back from any negativities because I know “Yes, I Can”!
Pen of Pritha Pradhan
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