From day one when you entered school – whether at Grade 0 or Grade 1 – one thing was pumped into your head: matric. This was done by family and friends, the media, the church as well as your own teachers.

It has been one song drummed into your head there was no way you’d miss it.

And finally, that time has come. Today begins the final matric examinations for which you have been primed and have waited for 12 years. I can only imagine the apprehension in your minds right now. I know it very well. I experienced it 32 years ago.

So, get your Oros, sit down and read this message.

Matric is not the be-all and end-all of life, or indeed of education. Good grades are great, but they are not everything in life. If you do not come out with top grades or distinctions, you will be one of many, and it will not make you less of a man. It would be great to get those grades and be on the front pages of the newspapers. But it is not tragic not to.

Not all of will excel in mathematics. Not all have an appetite for history. Business economics and accounting may not sit well with all of us. English grammar and poetry do not excite everyone. You are more than your class subjects.

Inside you there is a potential poet, an entrepreneur, a coder or a sportsman waiting to come out. That sportsman is not going to necessarily need good math, science, history and accounting grades to defeat his opponents. He is going to need fitness, agility, commitment, guts and courage.

It would be great to become a great footballer, swimmer or cricketer and still have a grasp of mathematics and science, but remember that there are so many scientists, chartered accountants, professors and CEOs, who also would have loved to run faster, to have better eye-hand coordination, to hit the golf ball with finesse or to swim faster than fish. That they could not, it did not make them less of the professionals that they are today.

Even if you failed completely, you would have failed matric not in life. As your parents, teachers, pastors and everyone will tell you, there are many great people among us who did not shine at school, let alone get to matric. And yet, some of them have gone on to change the world spectacularly.

Whatever the outcome, hold you head up. You have made it up to here. But this is just the beginning. You must come out of that exam room, and certainly out of this year with a stronger resolve to chase your dreams and not let them be defined by a symbol E or G on your report card. Don’t even let those dreams be shattered by the desires of your parents.

I know better. When I entered matric, I dreamed of the day I would be wearing a white lab coat working as a chemical engineer or metallurgist. But to the shock of my teachers, family and friends, I failed mathematics. As a result, I lost out on two confirmed bursaries and with that my dream died.

But because I had good advisors, people who believed in my potential beyond class marks, I was pointed in another direction. I went to pursue journalism, and even if I say so myself, I did not turn out badly in the world of media.

Work hard for the next few weeks to get good grades. You do not want to water down the work you have put in for 12 years. Do everything to pass and pass well. Seek all the help you can get to improve on where you have challenges. So that when you put that pen down and take down that blazer, you can proudly say: “I gave it my best.”

Try and fail, don’t fail to try.

But if you fail, hold you head up. The sky is not about to fall. Failure is but an ingredient in the recipe of success. Success tastes sweeter if you have experienced failures too.

I wish you luck. But most importantly, I wish you the understanding and discernment that you are more than the outcome of the next few weeks. I wish you to understand that this is not the end. This not even the beginning of the end.

This is the beginning of the beginning.

I LOVE YOU.

Rams Mabote – Chief Volunteer Officer, Future Kings

Image Credit: Change.org