Lessons from my struggling years

Saturday December 14 2019


By Min Atek

Throughout my primary school days, I was an exceptional learner. I excelled at many things ranging from the academics to music and debates.

And then secondary school happened. What stands out vividly in my memory are my senior two days. Whereas I had transitioned from Senior One to Senior Two, I had a shock to deal with the reality that I was not getting the high scores I was used to in primary school.

Suddenly, I became an average student and many of my classmates were doing much better than I was. I did not understand why this was happening neither did I fight to change it. But matters grew a lot worse in Senior Two.

My mother was alarmed and she made a lot of noise about my declining performance. At some point, she threatened to take me to a village school. I had moved from average in Senior One to below average in senior two. At that point, I also got severely alarmed. As Senior Two drew to an end, I got scared. Something was terribly wrong and I needed to fix it.

Those were the thoughts of encouragement I used to calm myself with as I sat down to understand what was happening to a child who previously was a star performer, who had dwindled from their former self into a place below mediocrity. We had just come from the school end of year performance and for the very first time, this dear child did not appear anywhere on the production list, never mind the fact that they used to dominate in their previous school.
As I reflected on my own experience, fighting hard to draw personal encouragement as a parent, I realised the situation on my hands was not any different from my school days.

It made me more understanding, kinder and a lot more patient. Suddenly, I could relate with the child, reading and understanding their confusion, frustration and fear. Seeing tears in their eyes took me back to my own time, as a teenager. Life was frustrating and confusing in equal measure.


I decided not to be too upset. I drew encouragement from the fact that eventually my own situation improved. For that reason, I choose to extend grace to my children. I choose to celebrate them in the time when the world is condemning and bashing them.

As we enter 2020, I choose to lift up and not put down. The darkest night always ends. Soon it will be morning.