Prof. Carrie Hall
Project 1 Revised
August 13, 2015, that was the day I was lost. Lost as I was so deep into the sea of disappointment that I just did not know what to do. Something I was confident at a time that would be so easy to achieve but the results just left me utterly confused.
September 2014, I started my first year as a Cambridge O-Level (both years equal high school) student in Pakistan. I was always very bad at studies scoring a C or D, at max I got a B in my English or Urdu. I first I thought of this just as a normal year, but then as I started progressing through the semester, I started getting focused on what I had to accomplish. This meant that I had to get good grades in my Urdu, Islamiat and Pakistan Studies since my parents had to pay an expensive fee which was separate from the school fees itself. This basically meant that we had to pay double the amount of an expensive fee already. This was my motivation for the semester.
Our first term ended by the end of December so that meant that this was the time to study for the CIEs (Cambridge International Examination). My friend at that time talked me into attending a professor’s academy who taught us Pakistan Studies and Islamiat. He was a great teacher and always cleared our confusions when we had any. Another thing that he did while teaching was that when he told us to copy the notes, used to tell us life lessons that he had learned in his life and the things that we may encounter at some point in our life. I don’t remember most of them but there was one that I haven’t forgotten and probably won’t forget. He told us that if we say something, stick by it. Overall, I had fun studying with him and I believed that I was ready to get an A or at least B in my finals CIEs.
We had our exams in May to June at exams halls that were usually very far from all our houses so me and two other friends that we would go to the exam halls together with the friend who had a driver to drop him off and, so we did. I wasn’t worried about Islamiat and Pakistan studies, but I was worried about Urdu because during the whole year, I didn’t take any extra classes or academies for Urdu.
Our results for these exams came to us in August since they were checked at Cambridge University. Then came the fateful day on which we got our exams back, August 13th. I woke up at ten. Got to school at 11. The school was 5 minutes’ walk from my house, so I went there after I got easy. There was a complete rush of students trying to get their results. Of course, my classmates and friends were there as well. Now most of my class was really happy because they had gotten their results and they had very good grades. This made me confident that I might have passed easily. I went to the room everyone was getting their results at. My turn came, I received a copy of my exam and an original sent from the Cambridge University.
I opened the envelope in which the result was contained. My result had one fail (‘u’ grade which is called ungraded in Pakistan), one D and one B. I was totally devastated. Totally confused. Was this what I deserved? Did I not work hard enough? These were just some of the questions that came into my mind. Everyone kept asking me my grade, but I had lost the guts to say anything but obviously I did answer them and told them my grades. After a few minutes, I found my old friend and we told each other our grades and while he had all As, I hardly passed in mine. We later decided to go out to eat something while I gathered the guts to explain my grades to my parents because they had very high hopes from me.
That day, either I was extremely sad or the food at that restaurant we went to tasted bad. I couldn’t tell. After sulking for half an hour, I dropped my friend at his house and then went back to my own. I told my mother about the result. My mother showed her usual face and basically made me feel guilty with her somewhat usual insults which never mattered to me, but today was different. Today, I felt like she was saying the truth. She was always saying the truth before too in her insults, but I knew that they were right and just told my mother that why should I change myself because I liked being what I was and at that time, I felt like I was perfect. Until then of course.
My father and brother lived in New York, so they still didn’t know. My father lived there for almost 20 years at that time because of work. He only called us there for the summer but otherwise we stayed in Pakistan. The reason being, he thought that us knowing our own culture is very important. When I was young, I never understood his decision. I even like 4 or 5 times when I was young because I wanted to live in New York but now I understand what he meant and I respect his decision. Now I am at the point at which my main reason to work hard is so someday I can return with peace.
My brother on the other hand lived in Pakistan his whole life, just like me and left Pakistan after his O-levels and A-levels to continue his study. Just like I am here right now. I always looked up to my brother because to me, he lived his life to the fullest. He got good grades in school, played sports tournaments and even went out of city sometimes just to chill with his friends.
Of course, I didn’t tell them the results myself because I was scared. My mother told them the results while I stayed behind the webcam hearing everything. Both were very angry. Now obviously I had to give those exams again. I again paid the school 15000 Rupees and this time the fee was lower because I only had to repeat the failed subject.
The next exams were in October to November. This meant that I had at least 2 months to prepare but this time however things were different. It’s not that I studied harder than the last time. No. How could I? Because after one week my self-esteem had faded away and I wasn’t fazed by anything. My friend that went to the restaurant with me even started to beg me to study. He even invited me to his house to attempt a past paper, but I just quit after 5 minutes.
Now came the days of them exams. I had to give 2 papers for one subject. This basically meant that exam was divided into 2 parts. My father and brother were also in Pakistan. This made the situation even more intense. I faced constant talks about my grades and how I might fail again but I survived and usually spent my time in my room. I did stop going out to chill though. So, for my first paper, I managed to study one week. Every one of my family members knew this and that was why they were worried. I gave the paper. I had almost twenty days to prepare I believe. And, I did nothing in those twenty days. Instead I just reviewed my old notes one day before the exam. I don’t know why but at the time, the only thing I worried about was that I was not worried at all. After that I just gave the last exam and waited for results to come in and I was going to receive them on January 15th, I think.
The day finally came, even though I didn’t hope for it to come but it did. I just went to my school for regular classes, I had even forgotten about the results but then literally the whole class came to me and congratulated me. That was the point I realized that I talk a lot in class. Then my most of my friends came running towards me and congratulated me as well. I had realized by then that everyone was congratulating me for my result, but I still did not know what grade I had. All I knew was that I passed. Upon asking my friends, I was told that I got a C and even though this might not be something one person would be happy about, but this was greater than an A for me because at this point anything would be good if I passed.
This was in a way the funniest thing that ever happened to me. I couldn’t even pass a subject after studying for 3 months and now after doing almost nothing related to studies, I passed. I even ended passing the next exams without being failed.
I don’t know how I managed to pull of the things I did but I managed to take away from it was that sometimes even failing is very important because it teaches you to deal with much bigger failures that you might face later on in life. All you need to be is thankful for what you already have and take everything just as a bad experience.