The opinions expressed here-under are entirely my own, done in my private capacity and not as an employee of Reddam House, any of its subsidiaries or its parent Company: Inspired Schools.
I have these past few months been incredibly lucky to have taught at a small and fiercely private school in Durban. With my contract now expired, and my turning to other ambitions in life, I thought it appropriate to depart with the words I have wanted to tell my students, but have not had the opportunity to.
Well, I had opportunities, but I may have lost the ability to speak at the time.
Without further ado, here goes.
A lot of students have, on separate occasions thanked me for things that they considered both great and small. A teacher is often the recipient of gratitude, and I would be lying to say we are humbled by it. It’s wonderful – to hear a student turn and, even if its flippant, thank you, is the reward that a teacher ultimately works for.
I left my final teaching classes today having been thanked by my students. They were in turns sincere, happy and acknowledged my work. Though I dared not show it (again, sigh) I was moved by this collection of gestures which brought to a close an incredible period in my life at Reddam.
However, what these students did not know, was that I am the one who owed them.
Reddam came, out of nowhere, at a juncture in my life that was unexpected (and looking back) unbelievably necessary. I had spent several years living a lie that I had told myself about what I wanted to be. To say this was misery would be polite and only now is the damage of that time securely in its place – in the past with lessons having been learnt. It is grim business trying to pass off failing yourself as a living. Though I am grateful for the opportunities my past has afforded me, the lessons I had to learn were hard won and I am glad that they are, for the most part, behind me.
This changed throughout the year. Without a doubt, I find myself at my happiest and most content sitting at this desk. None of the growth, humility and comfort that I currently experience within myself would have happened without my students. They showed me that the world was an effigy to be lit each and every day. Working with young adults, all of whom glow in unique shades of shattered-glass-color, reminded me that life is nothing but possibility. In a place where the advice of no adult was helping, it took teenagers to show me that a future need not be static. Our lives, all of them, exist through the movement of our experiences. Reddam was an experienced that moved me.
As I depart this wonderful place, I would like to leave behind a wish for those whom I have taught and for those who will follow. It is a simple wish, but one that I hope time will grant kindly:
May you learn from failure.
You have all been raised with the understanding that the benchmark for excellence is success rooted in victory. This is not true. True success owes nothing to financial stability or social currency; it is a self-studied sense of worth that you will lose and gain throughout your life. Do not be fooled into thinking that the measure of a person is by their wealth and prestige. It is easy to be charitable, kind and well-liked when you have ticked the boxes of convention and live in comfort. You will not truly know yourselves until you have failed. This is not a cruel observation, but one that should be embraced every single day. To learn from failure is to learn from a better teacher than victory. You must embrace the moments in your life where, try as you might, you cannot get it right. It is these moments that will show you what you truly value and how strong you can be.
The funny thing about this is that learning from failure is the true mark of success. The concept of failure evaporates when you look for a lesson in it. Once your eyes are adjusted to searching for silver linings in everything, you will understand that failure and success are one in the same.
This lesson is the essence of hope. It is the understanding that life does care for you and you are never alone despite yourself.
But hey, what do I know? Earlier this year, when I had by all accounts failed, I found myself staring at success.
165, unique, beautiful successes.