By Lebogang Sewela, South Africa:
I have always heard people saying 'stay optimistic' and I kept asking myself, “Do they even know what they are talking about?” I often find myself fighting a losing battle with optimism. Having to leave in this life full of tests, trials and misfortunes; it's really hard to stay positive. I know that tests exist to teach us lessons but how many lessons do we need to learn in this life time?
When I was in school I had big dreams and I knew how I wanted to achieve them. I knew very well that after my high school, I would go to university and read for a law degree, and one day I would become a prosperous lawyer. But somehow things get mystifying when you get to university. When compared, university is like reality and high school is like the fantasy world. When I got to university I became a muddled person; everything about university had disaster written all over it. Right from my fresh year, nothing was going according to plan.
To start off, in my first year I realized that I was studying a degree that I did not like, and as such I felt so lost and disheartened. Even though I was in denial for a long time because I did not want to be perceived as a failure, I eventually changed my degree. The new degree to which I changed became my little wonder of joy as it brought peace in my life; until it made me feel defeated.
One of the things I learned about university is that when you receive mail, you can tell the prospective by the size of your mail. In the second year of my new degree, I got a wiry mail at the end of the year warning that I needed to reconsider my majors. A wiry mail would imply that the letter is of rejection or bad news. At that time I had failed both my majors but I had to try and stay optimistic. However, it was tough considering that I had been reminded that I am a million miles away from reaching my dream. I felt despondent and disappointed since I was certain that I had made a wise move by switching my degree. I knew deep in my heart that God was trying to tell me something but I just could not figure out what exactly.
I managed to get to second year and I passed my major, failing only one. I took that as a sign that maybe with more hard work I could conquer this. But third year came and it brutally wounded my soul. I remember talking to God and explaining to him the implications of my failing. I was explaining to Him as if he did not already know. Before and after the examinations the only thing that was constantly on my mind was the thought that if I failed, my career would be over. I did this because I wanted to prepare myself for the worst. I did not even force myself to be positive. I knew the potential of this happening because I was not doing well at all, so staying optimistic was not realistic to me.
I recall the specific moment very clearly, when it felt like I was day dreaming. I got to my desktop and slowly logged in, with my heart beating abnormally. I opened my results and I saw three fails appearing in a stream line; guess what? It was all my three majors. Right away I knew it was over. At the time I hadn't received the letter of exclusion but I knew it was done. I felt like I wasted my time at university trying to prove to myself that I was smart. Yes I felt like a failure but on the other hand I felt like I had lost all the confidence in myself. I looked at my other friends who were doing good. I told myself that either I am smart or I am not. I guess I am not one, that's it. I could not help but discredit and dishonor myself. I felt like I deserved it. When my mom asked me what I was going to do, my first respond was, “I am going to do nothing! I don't have a future. Everything I had ever dreamed of is a nightmare”. Since I have had a history of depression I knew that I was on the verge of one because I could not even stay positive for a minute.
At this moment, it feels like nothing beats the feeling of losing confidence in oneself/myself and being unmotivated. You are your own cheerleader. I am my own cheerleader. So if I could not believe in myself it would be hard for others to. No matter what people said I just thought they were being compassionate because nothing could change the fact that I failed and was excluded from the degree programme. It's not the fact that you will not studying anymore that petrifies you but rather what it does to your esteem.
I was emphasizing positivism because on this journey I have learned that positivism is perhaps the only or the best therapy. As a human being you can only do much but staying positive is what keeps one going especially when it comes to unchangeable things. I know that there is a master plan behind this, but for now I need to stay positive.
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