Once in a while you meet a person who is so clear-minded about their purpose, it feels like a cool breeze on a hot January afternoon.
That was how Julius made me feel when I first met him in a long, slow food queue at an event we were both attending. We struck up a conversation as we inched along, and the fragrant aroma of food became even more alluring.
Julius had just completed high school. He had scored a mean grade of B plain in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination. He was obviously University-bound, I assumed.
“What do you plan to study?” I asked him
“Plumbing,” he announced confidently. I smiled as I scanned the queue.
“I’ve applied to a technical training institute,” he said.
Intrigued, I sat with Julius, our plates now filled. We continued the conversation as we devoured our lunch. He explained his interest in plumbing, how it had fascinated him from a young age when his family moved from upcountry to town, where they experienced indoor plumbing for the first time. He talked of the satisfaction he finds working with his hands; how the growing need for qualified plumbers as the construction industry boomed inspired him.
I came away from the conversation with the feeling that I had met a go-getter who knew exactly what he wanted and was not afraid to go against the grain. I had no doubt that this independent thinker would not only turn out to be a successful plumber but a very contented human being too.
January is always a month of anxiety and uncertainty for most KCPE and KCSE who will have sat for their final exams the previous year. The exam results would have branded most of them as “average” or “failures”. For the majority, the hope of attending a secondary school of their dream, or of pursuing a degree programme at university, has been crushed.
Are you one of those? Take heart! Here are some facts: Your future can be as successful as you chose. We were not all created to be the same – to excel in mathematics or English, or Biology, or to be academic giants. You have your own unique talents, interests and opportunities. You can take advantage of these assets, chart a new path, and never have to wish to be anything but yourself.
The world has a way of putting down people who don’t fit into its narrow definition of success. The answer however lies in broadening and personalizing your own idea of success. This takes tenacity and tough-mindedness. Consider this:
Suppose someone tells you that with your grades, your future can only lie in cleaning toilets. You can get upset (as they intend) or you can say: Suppose my future is really in clean toilets; how would I make it a successful one? The possibilities are immense, if you dared to dream.
So, whatever your dream, take time to figure out the path that will lead you there. What skills do you need to accomplish the dream? Who can help you learn? Set some goals, create a plan and work over, and over, and over in the pursuit of your dream.
Whatever you do, don’t let your grades define you. Ever. Grow wherever you’re planted. Be the boss of your own future. And expect good success. You deserve it.
Copyright ©2020 by David Waweru. Photo by nesto from Pexels.