My Birthday Reflection

In my 25th year, my goal was to get aligned with my career goal of being a health systems and policy researcher. Am grateful to everyone that supported and/or encouraged me to make this possible. In my 26th year, my goal is to be surrounded by the right people; people we can exchange moral support, encouragement and challenging moments as we journey in to our respective goals. Am doing my best to live deliberately – to lead my life to reach my goals.

My birthday in this August was a day to remind me that simple motivations can make you do great things. It’s worked for me in my developmental years of primary and secondary school as accounted in the paragraphs below.

In my second year of primary school, I was comfortable being among the top 5 in my class. One family friend, who was a merchant, promised to buy/give me a watch if I got to be position 1 or 2. I worked hard, got to position 2 at the end of the next term, and I got rewarded with a watch. It was a simple digital watch but it introduced me to time management at a rather young age.

In my third grade, I moved to another school and my performance was among the worst. Some classmates used psychology to make them look better and smarter than me and as a polite boy, their tricks worked to keep my performance at mediocre. At one point, I desired to be a pop musician after finishing the eighth grade. I had a file of local music lyrics and would memorize them in my part-time – until my music idol (E-Sir) passed on.

One day, in my fourth grade, my digital watch, the gift from the second grade, fell into a glass of water on a Saturday morning. It was a sad day for me, but I remember my parents buying me a digital watch with rubber straps that had a banana smell. I also had this girl who was my classmate during maths class – I wanted to impress her through my academic performance. By the time I had left the school in the fifth grade, my grades ranking had transcended from the bottom quarter to the top three – I had gradually learned to believe more in myself than in the peers who always made me feel less capable than them.

My next school wasn’t as exciting. I was always the first in the group, or marginally defeated into the second position. So I requested to shift into a more competitive school for my seventh grade. I performed well in the new school and had a monopoly of being the first and my target was often to leave the second with about 20/500 marks. In the eighth grade, a new student came, and he made my comfortable academic lead unsteady. I beat him more than he beat me, but on the national exams for my eighth grade, he beat me and he became the legend of our class.

My high school days were not the best. I didn’t like my school, though it was the top Boys’ High School in the province and due for upgrading to a national school. I lazied in school until Form 3, when I realized that the name of the high school would never matter as much as the grades I left the school with. One Biology teacher told me that I was bright, and I needed to focus on what was being taught rather than seeking out the extra, irrelevant information I always wanted. An effect of the encouraging words was a dramatic improvement in academic ranking; In the second term, my academic rank was 150s out of about 208 students, and after getting determined to seriously focus on my work, by the end of the third term, I came to position 15. I had been making efforts in the entire form three to improve my performance. However, I gained momentum when I was talked in to making the progress I so desired.

In my final high school year, I was more encouraged by a rapport with the deputy principal, who seemed to believe in my academic potential. And at the national high school exams, I turned to be the ninth student in our school.

Simple acts of challenging and believing in me made me do well. The efforts came from me but momentum to act came from those who talked me in to the progress I made. That’s why, in my 26th year, I want to surround myself more with the right people – I want to do more with my gift of life.

“Am still growing, and I hope to keep all people that believe in me proud”

Joshua

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