There was nothing unusual about the Tuesday afternoon of 2nd August 2011 other than that I was going to check my first undergraduate result in the HOD’s office. I’d just written CSC 102 exam and was beaming with a smile as I made my way through the stairs to check what’s up. As in the time past(secondary school till PDS); I went inside with high hope. It can’t be anything less than a wow result.
I took my pen, listening with rapt attention as he reels off my performance in each course I took. For a moment my hand was heavy and I can’t bring myself to accept the reality of the woe that befell me. A CGPA of 1.9/5.0! He looked down on me from under his glasses:
“This result cannot make you my friend”
I felt the world stop moving and blood drained from my face. I went out of that office with my tail between my legs. The rest is history today. After struggling for seven years, I graduated. Oh! You expect me to say with a good result? My final CGPA was under 2.0.
I had just finished the penultimate chapter of “Rita’s PMP Exam Prep” when I decided to take another mock exam. I picked up Oliver Lehmann’s 200 questions to test the waters. In 3hrs 40mins I was through. I got 71.5% and that got me so worried. PMI no longer releases passing scores and various online sources advised that candidates should target 75% and above to stand the chance of acing the exam. I reached out to Kenneth Lewis who I met on LinkedIn. He is a transitioning veteran of US Air Force who recently aced the exam. He asked that we discuss over video call and go through the questions I got wrong. More than what I learnt from him during the video call was the confidence I gained as he told me.
“I think you will pass this exam. You know these stuff”
A couple of weeks later I aced the exam on the first trial. It’s no magic, the confidence he gave to me went a long way.
My HOD might not have meant to deflate my hope. In fact, from the little I know of him, he’s a very good man and a great teacher. He made structural engineering comes to life. How he couldn’t bring my desire to do better to life on that day, I don’t understand. He might not have meant bad but what I heard in his voice on that day was “You’re not good enough and you do not belong here”.
Doing my What-if Analysis today, I asked what would have happened if he asked me to sit down and breath. What if he asked me what I think I should do to make improvements or probably asked what I think I did wrong. For someone who was admitted with merit having scored 71% in the entrance exam, what could have gone wrong? I wonder maybe the narrative could have changed if he used some other words or sat down to invest some few minutes into my career.
He could have used some other words but the ones he used without much care thus have their impact on the sand of time. (Not blaming it all on him.) I do not hold anything against him. This is just me remembering how I went into that office with high hope and I returned hopeless. Words matter. About a year later when another lecturer asked of my CGPA in the exam hall and I told him. He said to see him later which I never did. I wouldn’t want to be broken again. My faith in humanity was gone.
On the flip side.
When I was assigned to Engr Ajibade as a project student, I did not quite like it as I thought I’ll have preferred an older lecturer. He disappointed me with the way he drove me to work, he was careful enough to know my person and that helped to maximize what I could do. On one of those days, he sat me down to listen to my story of how I ended up having extra years in school. His words left me with high hopes again. I ended up with an A in my final thesis and he remained committed as my mentor till now.
The part Kenneth took is quite similar to that of Ivy. Ivy is my colleague at work. We ended up being each other’s best friend. She knew just how to infuse me with another pint of hope when I’m blacking out. Like Kenneth did. I knew a lot from the book I read. I wasn’t just going to be a problem on someone’s neck. What I needed was hope and faith enmeshed with little courage and humour. I needed to believe I can do it. And I want to know the rules of the game so I don’t end up trapped innocently. Kenneth knew to do that and it resulted in my success in PMP.
Can we learn…
The world is harder today. The difference between motivation and pressure is almost none-existence. Motivation and pressure are more of identical twins today. Everyone is fighting their own devil. Nobody really has time to imagine what the other person is going through. Just maybe the narrative would have changed if everyone has someone who believes in them and gives a dose of hope. We do not even need to use words most times, just an attitude that shows we believe in the other human can be enough nitro boost they need to overcome the nagging inertia. Sometimes, we need not judge people. We needed to choose our words carefully cos we really can’t know the extent they will go. Everyone is fighting a battle you don’t know about. The least we can do is to be nice to them and pick the words we throw at them with egg-care.
Oh don’t pity me, I’m not doing that bad. It’s just been two years after graduation and I’ve had almost 5years of professional experience. I threw myself in learning not for school but for life. If it will still matter, I look forward to having some other degree soon. But before then I’m here committed to building lives and giving hope in the little way I can. Maybe just maybe the narrative will change and we can some days tell the story of our affair with Failure while sharing the testimony of how we move from hopeless end to endless hope.
Amore cum, ab