Why we need to fail

Why we need to fail

"Sitting in front of me, head bowed and staring at the floor, I calm her down"

23-03-2022 · Column

Shy and timid, she walks into my office with her mother. Two weeks ago, she was admitted to our hospital following a failed suicide attempt. Fortunately, it was just a scare; but the damage was already done for her parents and siblings. You could still notice the mother’s anxiety and worry.

So as the story goes, the young girl was rushed to hospital after school because she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills. She had just seen the result of a school test she took, and her score was 2.6 out of 10. The girl was shocked and disappointed. Because of the intense shame she felt, she decided that the best thing to do was end her life. She could not dare to face her mother because high grades were expected from her.

Sitting in front of me, head bowed and staring at the floor, I calm her down and take her back to my third year in medical school when things were rough and my dad and I were not on the best of terms. My studies were buckling under the pressure of the challenges I was facing. On this occasion, we had just finished a test and I knew I had performed poorly. Traditionally, printed scores are unceremoniously pasted on a scoreboard open for everyone to see. So, as I get to check my results, other students are already there. One of them suddenly laughs out loudly: ‘Can you believe this? Someone scored three out of a hundred, hahaha’.That ‘someone’ was me. I broke down in tears.

Meanwhile, in my office, I notice I had caught the young girl’s attention. She is sitting up straight and staring at me. I tell her that I know what failure means and that I have also experienced the fear of disappointing parents. “Today, I am here in front of you as a doctor. Imagine that I had committed suicide then; we would not be having this conversation now.”

The mother embraces her daughter, and it is a moving sight to witness the pain and love between them. As they stand up to leave, I say: “See failure as an opportunity to learn. Fall down five times, get up at six, but believe in yourself no matter what.”

Jamiu Busari, associate professor of medical education at FHML and dean Health Professions Education (HOH Academy Aruba)

Author: Redactie

Photo: archive Jamiu Busari

Categories: Columns and opinion
Tags: jamiu,suicide,failing,instagram

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