This article is written by Pradip who has just completed his Grade 12 Exam and is joining soon in Purdue University for his under graduate programme in Mechanical Engineering. He is the son of my Family Doctor Dr.Gandhi Murugan, who has been directing me on all my health issues over the last 15 years.
The world isn’t short on quotes about failure; from Thomas Edison’s “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” to Bill Gates’ “Its fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed to the lessons of failure”. Despite the negative connotations associated with “failure”, it never fails to motivate humans to get back on the path they were on, provided that they are strong enough to accept their mistakes and be able to brave the unknown that’s yet to come. It’s been said that failure often works wonders but I stand by the opinion that failure is that rap on the head which serves as a reality check and what you do next defines the kind of person you are.
The failures that I was beset by growing up has moulded me into the person that I am now.
The most pertinent one occurred when I was in the 5th Grade. I was up against a good friend named Joshua for the Gold Medal in Academic Excellence. My school handed these out to only 3 students from a population of about 4500 every year. I knew I had worked hard, and I thought I deserved it in every sense and, therefore, had to get it no matter what happened. I felt like even God couldn’t stop me from getting that medal if He wanted to. But come the moment of calling the winner onstage, I was the one who was left behind, broken down and defeated, in the half-lit spotlight when Joshua received the honor along with his parents. It was then that I realized that bleeding hearts have an ironic fear of their own blood. I did get a consolation prize, but no one ever understood why I let this loss get to me.
After all, I was just a kid in secondary school with his whole life ahead of him. But the world doesn’t reward the person who tried the hardest or longest or the person who came second, and this was the dilemma that the deterred 10-year-old me faced because I worked too hard to come within an arm’s reach of the prize only to have my hand cut off just before I seized it. It wasn’t the loss of the medal that threw me off-balance, it was my failure to prove myself to my father. Coming from humble beginnings, my father is a testament that hard work and dedication is the key to achieving one’s dreams. I was often reminded of this when my father recounted his stories of failure to me and how he overcame them to become the man he is now. I fell short on my goal to make my dad proud that night and I’ll always remember it as the day I almost won. I realized that failures are a necessity rather than a necessary evil on the path of realizing one’s dreams. Even though it wasn’t much of a deal to those around me, it was a defining experience as my self-confidence was shattered that night which in turn fueled me to rebuild it stronger than before to make up for the moment that my father and I missed out on.
Going back, I later found out that I lost out on the medal by a paltry margin of two marks. Every experience I’ve had from that night henceforth was both an attempt to make up for those two marks and a result of what I learned when my building blocks came crashing down.
Staying true to the beginning, “It’s best to have failure happen early in life. It wakes up the Phoenix in you so you rise from the ashes”.
Pradip Krishna Murugan
29th July 2016