Failure Can be Your Friend


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From Me To You

t’s at the top of our prayer point list – Failure be gone! Nobody wants to be associated with failure. A word that is synonymous for everything bad, everything that spells defeat and rejection and an inability to succeed. No one likes to fail. I certainly don’t. However, I strongly believe that failure can prove to be an ally contrary to what we think. I believe the reason most people fear to fail is not even due to the sinking feeling that accompanies it, neither is it the psychological setback it can induce. Rather, it’s all about the fear of what other people would think. How they would view us under the scrutiny of their myopic lenses.

It may be sitting for the same exam time and again, and being unable to pass it for some inexplicable reason. You who were once called “Senior” are now being mocked the same juniors who accorded you respect only yesterday.
Failure rattles us to our very core. It makes us question ourselves. It elicits crippling self-doubt and can lead to depression if deliberate efforts are not made to curb the gloomy feeling. I have failed a couple of times in life, and I know that feeling all too well.
A particularly frustrating one was a 100 level Chemistry course I had to retake twice before I could pass. I understood why I didn’t pass it the first time – I simply had no idea what it was all about. With the overcrowded lecture hall drowning out the voice of the lecturer, his words always sounded like Greek to me, coupled with the complex nature of the subject.
But, the second time I sat for the exam and failed yet again, I had no clue why. Maybe I underrated the course. Maybe I had a defeatist mentality, whatever. Bottom line was I had failed it again, and had to retake it (and continue retaking it if it need be) if I planned to fulfill my dreams of being a University graduate.
So I sat for the exam again in my final year. And. I. Passed.  I did well, well above average. I had to pass it. I didn’t intend to spend an extra second than I had to in school after spending six years studying a five-year course, no thanks to incessant lecturers’ strike.
My final year project was another point of struggle for me. After all the bottlenecks and stress involved in sourcing materials to execute the project, getting it approved and eventually kicking it off, things went terribly wrong, and I was forced to jettison the entire project and begin a fresh process all over again. And this time around, it was a race against time as I was behind schedule.

It was grueling. My once chubby physique began to emaciate.  Most people didn’t believe me when I attributed my drastic weight loss to the unrelenting demands of my project. There had to be more to it they maintained. Again, at the end of the day, I was able to surmount all the challenges I faced with the project and successfully saw it to an end.
We have been told over and over again that failure is not something we should be associated with, but I dare say a life without failure is uninspiring. Imagine looking back when you are 75 years old, and realizing that everything has been smooth sailing throughout the course of your life. What personal lessons would you have learnt? What unique experiences would you draw from? What would the story of your life sound like?
I know some people may reply with “I don’t have to learn or draw experiences from my own failure, I can always learn from other peoples’” The truth is that there are certain life tests we can only appreciate when we experience them firsthand. The journey through the storm, the discomfort and pain and ultimate triumph.

Failure shows us that we are fallible. It pushes us to try harder and demonstrate a strength that we would never have known we possessed had we not been jolted out of our comfort zone. It is a propeller, an eye-opener and an opportunity to gain more knowledge.  Failure is a challenge.
Personally, I make sure to find ways to turn my failures into success. I never shy away from them even though the journey is never pleasant. It’s my way of “taking my power back.” For the few exams I have failed I made sure to rewrite and pass them, whether I would need them in the future or not.
For every rejection mail I have received from organizers of writing competitions or publishers, I make sure to keep sending my pieces to even more prestigious ones. And guess what? I have had a few success stories in this regard too.
I am not happy when I fail at anything. Anything at all, but I never allow the temporary setback to derail or stop me from trudging on in pursuit of my goals. I may cry, sulk for a while and even suffer mild depression, but I always, always come back stronger and better. It’s the reason I liken myself to the Phoenix.

What excites me the most about failing and finding the courage to make a success out of a seemingly bad situation is the fact that I’m going to have solid insights and stories to share with my children, and hopefully grandchildren when the time comes.
I will not be sharing only what I learnt from other people’s failures, I will be telling them my own “raw and uncut” truths about the unpleasant journeys I have navigated and how I came out victorious at the end of the day.

I’m not about to launch into examples of famous men and women in history who turned their failures around and became hugely celebrated successes all over the world, but, you see, as long as you don’t throw your hands up in the air and resign to defeat, failure is only a detour.
It’s not such a bad thing after all.

• Ololade Ajekigbe is a writer and communications specialist who blogs weekly at
Her works have been featured on several platforms and publications in Nigeria. She is a graduate of the University of Ibadan.

Brain teaser
The Blind Prisoner
There were 3 prisoners in the King’s dungeon. Two of them had perfect vision but the third prisoner was completely blind.
One day the King gathered the prisoners together and said to them, “I have 5 hats. 2 of the hats are black and 3 are white. I will blindfold each of you and then put one of the hats on each of your heads. I will then put the remaining two hats in another room. Next, I will remove your blindfolds. At this point you may look at your fellow prisoners but may not speak to them. The person that can tell me the color of the hat on his head will go free. Do not insult me by guessing, however, for if you guess and are wrong, you shall be executed.”

The hats were then placed on the prisoners’ heads and the blindfolds were removed.
The King then spoke to the first prisoner, a fully sighted man. “What is the color of the hat on your head” The prisoner looked around carefully but finally, not wanting to risk death by guessing, said that he did not know.
The King then spoke to the second prisoner, the other fully sighted man. “What is the color of the hat on your head” This prisoner also looked carefully at the hats upon the heads of the other two prisoners, but finally admitted that he also did not know.
At this point the King turned and began to walk away, assuming that the third prisoner who was blind could not know possibly the answer to the riddle.
But then the blind man spoke. “Excuse me, my lord,” he said, “but I am certain my hat is white.”

Surprised, the King turned around. He saw that the blind man was correct and ordered him to be freed at once.
How did the blind prisoner know the color of his hat?
Lookout for the answer next week.

Talk to Judy
Hi guys! My name is Judy. I am here to share your problems with you. Trust me to proffer solutions to those mind boggling problems you wouldn’t dare share with friends, siblings, parents or anyone else.
A lot of people; teenagers alike, hurt secretly with problems they can’t discuss openly for fear of being judged. You may hide your identity if you wish, but do write in and let’s discuss that problem. It is not healthy to bottle up problems. Moreover, problems shared are problems half solved. Or, you think no one cares? I do care!
I will be here every week to help you solve that problem. But, I can’t, if you don’t talk about it, so do write in. you never know, what you call a problem may just be a normal growing up experience.
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Star Teen
Meet Ezequiel Pereira, the Teenager Who Got $36, 000 from Bug Hunting

Ezequiel Pereira is an 18 year old Uruguayan who just got rewarded $36,000 by Google through its ‘Vulnerability Reward Program’ for exposing a security flaw which would have allowed him make changes to internal company systems.
This cash award makes it the fifth of such awards the teenager would be receiving from Google for bug detection. Just a month before he turned 17 in 2006, Ezequiel made his first accepted bug discovery, which earned him $500. After that, he turned in another $5,000, then, $7,500 another $10,000 and now, $36,000 – his biggest so far.
The teen was super excited over his win; “It feels really good — I’m glad that I found something that was so important,” he said.
Ezequiel got his first computer when he was 10, took an initial programming class when he was 11 and then spent years teaching himself different coding languages and techniques. In 2016, he won a coding contest in his home country of Uruguay and was flown by Google to its California head office to be honoured.
The teenager, who turns 19 in August, is currently studying Computer Engineering at the University of the Republic (A public University) in his hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay. He ended up in the school after the over twenty schools he applied to for scholarship in the US turned down his offer.
Nonetheless, he is saving up a chunk of his winnings towards getting a Masters degree in Computer Security but also spares a part of it for helping his mother pay the bills and occasionally hanging out with friends.
None of his close friends have ever submitted a bug of their own, though he tries to encourage them to give it a shot.
“They’re interested but they don’t think they know enough,” he said. “But I always tell them just to try! Anyone can learn these things.”
When he’s finished with his homework and doesn’t feel like hanging out with friends or watching videos, he’ll whip out his computer and start hunting. Ezequiel is now ranked at number 12 in Google’s Hall of Fame for its bug hunters program.
Tech Companies say that if they encourage security researchers to test their systems for money, they have a better chance of staving off bad actors. Google doled out $2.9 million to 274 different researchers last year, with a top award of $112,500.

• Source: CNBC

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