Growing up, my brains were my safety net.
What do I mean?
Let me explain.
For as long as I could remember, I was the most intelligent person I knew. If I was not taking the prize for 1st place, then it would be for 2nd place. I was always amongst the Top 5 students at any given point, regardless of the exam or subject (ok, with the exception of Geography – that subject has never really sat well with me, I have no idea why).
I was the kind of person that never really studied either – I have always told one of my childhood best friend to NEVER follow my study habits – they could lead one to doom! And yet, I always did a great crash program and aced those questions, I literally used to hand them back their marking guides. My greatest strength was (Is? Was? Is? I Don’t know if I still have it) that I rarely forgot what I was taught. If I pay attention in class, do my homework and a few practice questions I’m good to go.
So, what happened when…… after high school I decided to go straight into professional training and do my undergrad via distance learning, (working for one of the biggest professional services provider) instead of just going to a traditional university like every other normal person?
Well, I aced the first year, getting distinctions in almost all my modules. Great start, right? Come 2nd year – real life started to take place, grades lowered, though I still passed – just not with the same flying colors.
Not doing too bad, I thought.
However, by the time I got to 3rd year exams, things had really changed, so much was taking place in my life (including toxic relationships, lack of motivation, identity crisis, stories for another day!!! I could write a book on my 3rd year alone!!!).
Don’t worry I still finished my degree (by the grace of God alone), however, I remember deferring one of my exams in 1st semester and failing another one.
For the first time I had written an exam and failed!
Before this day, ‘fail’ to me was defined as not getting a mark above 70. On this occasion I had an encounter with the genuine meaning of the word. What had been the perfect plan to the finish line was already going wrong. Then in the 2nd and final semester I had too many exams than initially anticipated. And life had not stopped happening, if anything, things in my personal life were only getting worse by the day (I told you my 3rd year is a book of its own!).
The remedies I sought were not at all helpful. As I approached my final exams, I no longer believed in myself. Oh, did I mention that by this time some people at my work place had started talking about me – not in the most positive of ways. Amongst the many reasons for this, which I will get into on another day, was the fact that, in one colleague’s words –
I had gone from being the girl with a bright future to the girl who was not doing well anymore and was struggling with school.
As this was my first time in this kind of scenario, you can imagine what it was like. So, on the day I wrote one of my exams, which I hadn’t adequately prepared for, I walked out of the exam room after writing all I knew at my fingertips. I immediately called my Dad. He was disappointed at me for quitting and walking out, without even trying, but encouraged me that was not the end of life. I couldn’t begin to think how I would explain this to my Mum. She had never seen me fail or quit either. I wish I had just tried harder – as it turned out, even though I had only written half the exam, I had a 40% mark. If I had just stayed longer in that exam room, applied myself a bit more or something, I could have passed. All I needed was 10% to nail this. Lesson – don’t quit, you’re closer than you think even when it doesn’t feel like it. Anyhow, the one thing I had always been good at I had now failed.
The hurt, pain, and the shame I felt. I was angry at myself. I told myself what a disappointment I was. The people around me only made it worse with their mockery.
What did this mean? I had not finished with everyone else I had started with. I felt left behind. I didn’t want to continue. One thing I’ve since learnt is that it’s not about finishing with everyone else – it’s about finishing at the time God set for you!
I felt dumb for the first time in my life, like I was not good enough. My intelligence was the only thing remaining that made me feel like I was good enough – other things, life events and people had long stripped me of my self – esteem and confidence, so to lose this one aspect of life that I still had hope in and hid behind left me shattered.
However, God revealed to me, amongst other things, that I had been relying on myself and not Him.
I had been relying on my own capabilities and achievements to make me feel good rather than relying on His healing power to deal with the broken parts of me. Man, oh man…I know some people may not relate but I can’t begin to explain some of the things God revealed to me in that season, the following months and years.
God calls us to trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Even though I thought this was the beginning of the end, it was the beginning of seeing God’s favor on my life, in a new way, in a new season…..Stay Tuned for more!
Who is Thuli Dube?
Thuli Dube, is a Chartered Accountant, Author and Publishing Consultant, who finds her therapy, healing and release in writing. Nurturing a beautiful love affair between her pen and paper, Thuli draws her inspiration from scripture, life events, pictures, almost anything! She has a heart for young women and a passion for youth education and empowerment. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, she currently resides in the Channel Islands. Thuli believes in living a purpose driven life and making an impact on her immediate community. She aspires to enable individuals to fully realise what they were created to accomplish. She also assists other budding authors with tools and skills to publish their manuscripts and distribute them globally. She is the author of ‘The Scent of Freedom, Rest in You’, a memoir about finding healing and freedom from the past and insecurities and learning to forgive oneself for their mistakes. In 2016, she was nominated for the Author of the Year Award for the 2016 Zimbabwe International Women’s Award and was also featured in the Gumiguru’s Zimbabwean Top 40 Emerging Leaders under 30 for the year 2016.