I did finally graduate, in the end, with a certificate in audio engineering. Which has nothing to do with what I’m currently doing right now, but that’s another story. The story I’m sharing with you right now is the story of a boy who collected failures like they were Pokemon cards.
I’ve been to four private colleges, (not including the college I finally graduated from) and usually messed everything up by the second semester. The pattern was the same, I’d start the first semester thinking that ‘This is it. I am not going to mess up anymore. “ aaaand in a few weeks I would be flunking classes.
My father thought my string of failures was due to the fact that I was too comfortable, too used to relying on them as my safety net through life. My mother thought I needed spiritual intervention and if I somehow found God all my problems would be fixed immediately.
In between failing my classes, I took on part-time jobs because I couldn’t stand asking my parents for money. It isn’t nice making a phone call saying “Hi mom, yep I failed again. Can you give me some money so I can watch a movie please?” They still paid for my education, but my expenses were my own. I may have been an irresponsible idiot, but I didn’t want to be a cruel idiot.
I’ve waited tables, worked at many 7-11s and even had a short stint as a car repo guy, which I couldn’t stomach since it made so many people mad. The good thing about my time spent working, is that I was educated on the value of a ringgit. Menial workers have to really sweat for their money, and it isn’t all that much at the end of the day.
I made friends with a dude, lets call him Azam, who grew up in Kuala Lumpur, with 9 siblings and a sick mother. He dropped out of high school because of drugs, and because his father beat him a lot when he didn’t give his dad money. I made friends with another lady who was over 60 years old, a cashier at a 7-11 who thought working there was an upgrade as she had previously been a cleaner for 20 odd years. Her fondest memories were of her time working in KLCC, she has probably cleaned after you at some point if you’ve ever visited that mall.
These were people who were never presented with the opportunities I had, and were content with a future of working hard for the rest of their lives. I gradually realized that I am one lucky idiot, and that I needed to get my act together.
So the Boy Wonder of failures finally passed a whole course, sobered up and got a job. Last year I gave my parents duit Raya for the first time, it was an awesome feeling.
If you really look at the people you meet when you go about this city we live in, you’ll see a lot of people who probably never got a fair chance to succeed. There are many people who will never get that ultimate lucky break that will change their lives for the better. The Bangladeshi server who just served me my coffee while I was writing this, probably won’t make it to middle-class society anytime soon.
Real life is structured so that there are the lucky ones, the unlucky ones, and the ones who survive despite bad luck through sheer force of will. No matter which category you’re in, I wish you strength and perseverance, and the hope that we will all be kinder to the ones who aren’t fortunate enough to get lucky in this big wheel of fortune we call life.
- by Ariff K.
The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Kopitiam Ekonomi.