It happened very quickly. A dear friend and mother figure of mine, Tumi, asked a simple question. It bent itself backwards into a question and for what felt like five seconds longer she expected an answer. When people are love you they want to know how you are going to celebrate graduation. The same way you made an effort to see them celebrate their own. I had already spoken to my mother about it but it felt harder telling my mother figure than it was telling the person who helped pay my expensive fees. Everything about being a failure is expensive.
While my life was busy falling apart I met a young woman by the name of Teboho Mpholo. Teboho was a shy, timid but a very ambitious young woman. She worked hard and so did the rest of my editorial team. Slowly as my days of being editor-in-chief of IRAWA Post came to an end, most of the staff (or my children as I affectionately referred to them) came and thanked me goodbye. I did not understand why. I was confused. As appreciative as I was of their words, I had failed. I took on a burden that I was too proud to let go.
The manager of student media called me to his office before we announced the new editor-in-chief and also thanked me for my contributions. He was smart; did he not know I had failed? I could tell the rumour was going around about it. Friends who sniggered in the shadows and friends who wanted to ask but bit their tongues. He spoke of my successes and all I wanted to do was cry. I had achieved the impossible, at a huge price but I had created a new student media. I never got to experience what I so desperately escaped for but instead I had created it. On my way out, Miss Mpholo made it apparent to me how I had inspired her. It was when she spoke, that I realised that if death took me then, I had done something. My little Christian dream was to find a purpose and change someone’s life. If I could do that, God could do with me as he pleases. And I did it, a part of it. I looked at many people whose stories were told, at people who had opportunities, at people I had touched. At people who grew and thanked me for motivating them, at people like Teboho, bigger now because I was there. I changed people’s lives for the better, how many people can say that? I did not fail; I just did not graduate yet. Not the way I would like.
And so, I tell my story, not as a shadow hidden in someone else’s. Not as a footnote. In my pursuit of other people’s stories, much like my mad life, I ignored my own. I hid my struggle like I hid my emotions. And now, I open a new book in my life, a book that I am happy to read. Nothing can make you feel more hopeless than not graduating. Whatever you are facing can be dealt with, believe me. This story of failure is a story of success. Someone is watching you – they are looking up to you. Do not fail them, and most importantly – do not fail yourself.