We will all have to live with the consequences of our choices whether we made them ignorantly or not. Failure may come to anyone but to see yourself as a failure is your prerogative. You alone choose that one.
After my experience with the counselor (read part 2), and I was admitted into the sciences, I began my academic struggles. From SSI to SS3 (Grade 10-12), I battled hard to stay afloat. Success was now difficult. Unlike my JSS days when I rarely read (I just listened in class and thought my way through answers. Psychology? Perhaps) now I had to bother much about equations and theories. Michael Faraday, Einstein and Archimedes were living lives which they chose to live. Why was I now compelled to find their Xs and Ms which I didn’t misplace? But I wanted to be Doctor Mike so my choices were limited.
I will always be inspired by guys like Femi Eyetan. He came across to me as one of those kids born with a book. He was playful but even when he played good grades seemed to seek him out. I was therefore surprised when Hakeem Badmus told me Femi had changed from the sciences to Arts or Social sciences. That was preposterous! Femi was the next Albert Einstein as far as I was concerned. Well now, I begin to think his mother, who was an educationist as well as a teacher in my school then, was instrumental to the making of that decision. Femi wanted to be an accountant I gathered. Fancy making good career moves early.
Well back to Doctor Mike. I ran my course like the common cold. SS1 to SS3. While guys like Tayo Olawepoo did quite well in sciences, I discovered I began to struggle. I still did better than many people, no doubt, but I was average. This was not the me I used to know. At the end of our SS3 exams, I did fairly well. I had a couple of As, Cs. Outstanding were the Ps in Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics. Luckily for me, my father had registered me for GCE exams which were due to hold in November 1995. That was a smart move. Don’t put all your academic eggs in one basket (am I talking to someone?)
It was now preparation time for GCE. I read on my own. I really gave it my best shot. I used to read at State Polytechnic Yola back then. I was going to turn the tables this time. It was a tough time, but I was disciplined. Thank God I didn’t have to contend with the modern-day distractions of cell phones and all what not. But I had distractions all the same which I managed quite well.
Examination day came and I was ready. I had prepared hard. I was ready for Gay-Lussac, Galileo, Faraday and Einstein all put together. I was going to beat them at their own game. I had devised means to discover their missing property- their Xs, Ys and their MC2s. I did well during the exams. Even I knew. Until my last day, that is. I had Physics that day. I was all set. I was finally beginning to feel like Femi Eyetan or Jokotola Kemi. It was going to be a walkover. But when I opened the question paper, something happened to me. I went blank! I suddenly became clueless. As clueless as people have accused our governments of becoming. Then I began to cry. God recognizes tears, unfortunately WAEC does not. I knew I had to do something. So I began to shade. Anything! I was already down, I feared no fall. Finally, amidst silent sobs, I finished. I answered the essay part and submitted my script. Caution: Not everyone that submits their paper early knows what they wrote! I must have looked like a smart guy to those other students because I finished about 30 minutes before the best of them. I confess that I never read some of those questions. Guess work ruled the day.
Exam over, I cried wee, wee, wee all the way home like one of those little pigs in the nursery rhyme. My sister Chinyere Adeyemo and my dear mother tried hard to console me. I had lost all motivation to go for the last paper that evening. They finally managed to convince me to go for my evening paper-Agricultural science. Thankfully, I had an A in that one.
When the results were released, I can still picture Elisha Sunday (he went to WAEC office to check my results. We didn’t do online back then) lying on the floor distraught. He felt bad for me. But I was feeling sorry for him. He couldn’t bear to see me fail yet I couldn’t bear to see him looking defeated. Talk about crying more than the bereaved! But I do not blame him. He was a big brother. He watched my back. He knew my stuff. I was the smartest kid in the block. But I had failed again. Archimedes, Robert Boyle and Albert Einsteen, their cousin, had conspired against me.
I had failed again. But I’m still standing today. You know why? I’ll tell you without a consultation fee – each time I encounter failure, I fail forward!
I am Michael Nwangwa. And I have failed countless times.
Watch out for part 4.