BY JOSELINE BYAKATONDA
With S.6 results released last month shortly after S.4 and Primary Leavers Examinations, candidates, parents and guardians were either, jubilating or wailing, bearing the shame or upholding unlimited praises. Jubilating, of course, is the better part with parents of candidates buying slots in the media to show their joy, to the joy or call it pride of the candidates. Those wailing can only but act as though their children never sat the exams while the candidates themselves bear the venom of scolding neighbours, fellow
candidates and village-mates. The human venom-of-the-tongue is what led 15-year-old Daphine Kimuli, a born of Hoima to commit suicide in July as she could no longer contain scolds from relatives and neighbours upon
release of P.L.E results in which she scored 25 aggregates. While the family and neighbours expected otherwise, her capabilities did not match current assessment structures. The use of radical individualism as a gage of success
places people on the same weighing scale irrespective of the surrounding circumstances. However, although radical individualism places the individual as the determinant of success, basing everything on just the
individual cripples the individual in the long run when pieces of ‘hard work’ and ‘good character’ don’t yield success. Radical individualism is a success theory built on two-ifs, the individual being the main function: if an individual works hard and is really a good person, then they are bound
to succeed and when they don’t, it’s their problem. The individual succeeds because they are great and if they fail, they are failures, there is no explanation for failing. This was the gage used on candidates that did not score highly in their exams. I have met many people that are really good
and work hard and yet are not ‘successful’ per the gauge of societal success. Some of the saints whose lives we commemorate in the Church are but a few of those. Striving to fit on the weighing scale of peers, family, school, neighbours etc., young people adopt habits to keep afloat often landing in the jaws of addiction and mental illness unaware. Using a radical individual gauge as a society or family to measure success is putting a loose around one’s neck hoping it won’t strangle one. Of course, it will! “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything,” Albert Einstein’s ‘one of
the many’ famous quotes goes. The bias with which achievement is measured sometimes has not only led to Daphine’s death; many others have fallen victim and though are alive, are living corpses, their ambition, motivation and dreams crushed from within. How well nurtured are the young people to face the adversaries of life? The nerve of failure is what David Riesman, a Harvard sociologist described as ‘the courage to face the possibility of defeat and even aloneness without being morally destroyed.’ The ability to acknowledge the two eminent possible outcomes from every human effort; success or failure while upholding the identity of oneself.
Drawing from the practice of those who have gone before us, success
denoted working your way honestly to the ladder-top, not crafting your path through shortcuts, like it is today. Many have failed to achieve in one way or the other yet have still succeeded in life later. The difference is the attitude with which failure is received and the mindset with which it’s analysed. The anchor should be on the principle not feelings that failure brings. In society today is the desire to chase success without traces to show for it systematically. In fact, those who work their way systematically have lost jobs; they have had their names tarnished, and they have been called all names, for just choosing to do things the right way. In fact, it is no surprise for a parent to celebrate success that was earned using dubious ways than using moral standards to excellence. Young people due to depression often combined with poor self- esteem decide to cope with emotions from disappointment and hurt in an unhealthy manner. Addiction Center in Cambodia found the same traits in COVID patients because of isolation. Loneliness and addiction go hand- in-hand for a large number of people suffering from substance use disorder. Using harmful substances to cope with challenges like depression, anxiety, and trauma is because they are the most readily available options to victims in most cases. However, the crucial skills to pass on are: love and self-worth, confidence, hard work, self-discipline, honesty and open mindedness. One’s self-esteem and self-worth are closely tied to the love extended to self. Self-love will not make you immune to failure or feelings of despair, but rather, enable you
make morally upright decisions. Only when you love yourself can you begin to shed your insecurities and strengthen your sense of being. It is important to note that mentally beating yourself up (the icy cold opposite of self-love) makes you lose your sense of self. Let’s make a choice to embrace the failure theory of success to the radical theory of individualisms. We ought to cultivate the nerve to thrive through failure, for we are not our mistakes, mistakes are human. Pain, disappointment and failure are part of
the human equation. Chew the failure, swallow the positives and lessons learned, spit the fear and negative branding of society; move on to success strengthening your nerve of failure: ‘the courage to face the possibility
of defeat and even aloneness without being morally destroyed.’
Some ways on how to nurture the nerve of failure in young people:
• Giving them challenging tasks to solve,
Using family experiences to discuss
about failure and success,
• Differentiating failure from the
• Assessing situations together
to enable the individual identify
their contribution with the aim
of choosing appropriate ways to
improve, take ownership without
• Identify both the positive and the
negative of the situation following
the 2-1 rule respectively. For every
one negative point, challenge them
to identify two positives in turn. This
will build a more optimistic mind.
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