Kwasi Danso Amoah was the quintessence of academic competition. Throughout our years of basic school at T.O.P.P. Preparatory School (near Twifo Praso in the Central region of Ghana), this boy gave me countless sleepless nights.
Get a 97% in Science – he will get a 99%. Pull out a 99% in Mathematics and he will surprise you with a 100%. At a point, it was an unspoken law that the difference between the total scores of the 1st and 2nd place was just a mark or two. So fierce was the competition.
And, we liked the same girl in JHS. You know the effect pretty girls have on boys, right?
Our rivalry ended with BECE 2008, and even there our raw scores reflected our nine-year-old feud…mine was *29 and his was *28.
Kwasi Danso Amoah went ahead to be School Prefect of St. Augustine’s College. He is in Law School now and I can tell you with a firm stamp of authority that he’s the next big thing on the Ghanaian law scene.
Maybe I’m not as anxious about competition now as I was then but in trying to uphold that high standard we had both set for each other, I learnt and achieved a lot. I share one of such lessons with you today.
It was in B.S.5 and we had promotion exams the next week, so we were in revision week. But I was not studying. I do not know whether it was due to complacency or laziness or the witches in my village but I simply was not studying. When Kwasi Danso Amoah was memorizing dictionary definitions in class, I was reading ‘Sweet Valley High’ books.
I am sure I would have come back to my senses but for one incident that further invigorated my insouciant attitude: I was passing by the B.S.6 class when I heard one of their good students remark that he would not even revise till the weekend otherwise he would forget most of the things.
I said to myself with a false air of assurance, “I will do same. After all, if he can do it and still do well, then why can’t I?”
That term, I was slaughtered viciously. I came third in class. And a girl beat me. Not to belittle women, in fact, I’m second to a girl in my Pharmacy class now but at that time, it was a big deal. I thought the world had come to an end. What would my friends say? What would the teachers say? That vacation was one of my worst. It was an unpleasant experience but it taught me three big truths.
1. The world will not wait if you goof. Did Danso and Esther lazy about too when I was lazing about? And when the results were declared, did they say, “Leslie, have some of our marks”? Or, “Leslie, we don’t want you to be sad about coming third so we offer you the first position”?
When you move, the world moves. When you stop moving, the world keeps moving. So why are you wasting time? There is that one thing you know you really need to do but which you keep procrastinating. It’s not too late to start working on it. And while at it, give it your very best. Make mediocrity a cacophony. Strive for excellence.
2. Someone’s story is not your story. Someone’s methods must not by all means be your methods. For most of us, we look at what others are doing and copy blindly – we copy how others pray, the foods they eat, how they drink water, how they learn, how they dress, how they express love for their partners, etc.
No! Know what works best for you. Yes, you could experiment others’ ways a few times but do not make yourself a photocopy machine of the lifestyles of other people. Create your own power!
Needless to say, after that experience, I always knew what to do when it was revision week. ???
3. The best way to relieve yourself of any emotional burden after any exams – not necessarily just a classroom exam – is to prepare adequately for it. When you “write” an exam unprepared and things do not go well, the tendency is to blame yourself. The psychological ramifications of such self-blame are many and I cannot begin to count them here. From the time that event occurred till today, I do my best to prepare for every single test that comes my way – examinations, interviews, quizzes, in fact, life itself is a test. Of course, you cannot prepare for everything. The most important thing is to make a strong conscious effort not to leave your fate in the hands of chance. That way, if things go wrong, you know you did your best.
I pray you do not wait to learn the hard way like I did.
Thank you for reading and I hope you start this week on the right note. Cheers!