At the age of 16, all those years ago, when I got 72% in my year 10 ICSE exam in India, I remember thinking 'I'm not as smart as those who got more than 90%. I wonder if that means I'm a failure."
It's not that I didn't study hard. I did. But no matter how hard I studied, I could never get good marks in subjects like Maths, Physics, Chemistry. I was so disappointed in myself. There were days when I hated myself. When I wanted to be someone else. Anyone else. I just didn't want to be me.
Years later, I discovered that I was actually pretty smart in a certain skill. I could write stories that made people laugh...that made people cry...that made people think.
"I wonder what will happen if I hone this skill" I thought to myself. My kids were little, I was in a full-time job, my responsibilities were many. In the early hours of dawn, while everyone else slept, I practised the craft of writing. I wrote till my fingers were numb.
As the days melted into each other and as I continued practising, the first glimmer of self-confidence was born. 'I'm good at this' said a tiny voice inside my mind. And for the first time, I felt 'smart'. I looked back and wanted to reach out and hug my 16 year old self....I wanted to tell her that just because she wasn't good at certain skills didn't mean she was a failure. She just had to figure out what she was naturally good at...her 'Zone of Genius'. And then hone it and keep honing it towards mastery.
I still haven't mastered the craft....but I believe in myself so much more than I did all those years ago.
To all those who, like me, spent a part of their childhood feeling they weren't 'good enough'... a big hug from me to you. Please remember that people around you may be a lot smarter than you in certain things. But guess what? You're a lot smarter than them too....just not in the same things :-)
If you never flap your wings, how will you ever know how high you can fly?
Nim Gholkar, 2020