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This story was written by Vyshakh from INDIA.

When my twelfth grade results came, I was terrified to find out that I got very low marks in math. It was so low that I could not even apply for an engineering degree. The reaction from my parents, as I had expected, was horrifying. But little did I know, that these marks would be with me forever.

All the people around me were silently mocking me, due to my disappointing results. They did not say it to my face, but I could just feel their happiness about my failure. Though my parents needed a little time to finally accept it, they supported me thereafter. I did not think of it as a big deal. Everyone went for an engineering degree, but I could not. I actually felt a sense of relief. I had jumped off the engineering degree bandwagon.

The people all around me became critical of me. The teachers I saw after that, called me lazy and said I would have gotten better marks if I studied more. They said I missed a golden opportunity that I would never get again. Most of my friends got into good and reputable institutions and that made me feel all alone. Seeing my despair, my father got me into a college away from home for a Computer Application degree. I think he felt that I needed a break from it all.

The two months before I received the results were the saddest time of my life. I felt all alone and honestly, I felt like a loser. My friends made fun of me because I could not join an engineering college. Even though they were not trying to make me sad, and were just goofing around, it was terrible. Being the odd one out is the worst thing that can happen to any teenager. At that point, I did not even feel like leaving my house; I knew someone would be asking what my results were. After the results, a few of my relatives called me up to know my results. When they heard that the marks were bad, it just got awkward. They kept on reassuring me that everything would be fine and that I shouldn’t stress too much about this failure.

The very fact that I was not even interested in an engineering degree did not keep me from being disappointed with my performance. All these reactions made me feel that I could never be successful in my life. Also, at the beginning, I hated my undergraduate college with all my heart. I thought I was not supposed to be studying there, but at a prestigious college for engineering.

Now when I think of it, it was a blessing in disguise. Everyone goes for an engineering degree, and it feels nice to be doing something entirely different. Most of my friends who went for engineering are struggling to keep up with the immense pressure and stress around it. And the time I spent in my undergraduate college was one of the happiest times of my life. I passed with good marks and made it a point to prove everyone wrong. I worked hard for my post graduate entrance examinations and currently I am studying at one of the most prestigious universities in India.

Now when I think of it, it was a blessing in disguise.

I am sure there are plenty of people who have experienced this in India. Here, it is the social norm to pursue engineering and then later decide what you want to do with your life. Listen, if you get low marks, it does not matter. If you strive to be successful and work hard, no one and nothing can stop you. You are young and you are supposed to make mistakes. If you do not get to make mistakes now, when will you be? The important thing is to take it in stride and make a note to never repeat it again. And I am sure you will get all the support you need from your parents and close friends. And as the great Benjamin Franklin said “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”

This story was part of Safety First for Girls (SAFIGIs) #SharingNotShaming campaign.

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