My Most Embarrassing Moment

I missed a day on my daily blog posts so soon after promising I wouldn’t. How I regret it now,. Here is the promised post as an admonishment to myself and apology to all my readers for not keeping said promise.

Pride. That thing causes a lot of pain to others as well as to oneself. I believe I had a lot of that in me not so long ago. A series of events helped to trim it down and almost completely rid me of it but this one… this single moment knocked me down a peg or two from my high horse. One can’t be embarrassed without pride. That is the lesson I learned on this day.

Location: St. George’s College, Harare, Zimbabwe

Time: Sometime in 2013 maybe even early 2014 (I tried to forget)

I was having a conversation just prior to the announcement of the new prefects at my high school. Being a prefect was beyond prestigious back then, especially to me. The one person I looked up to more than anyone else in my entire high school tenure was my first prefect, Pouria Sanjari. I had to call him Mr. Sanjari for a year but I didn’t mind one bit for I held him and his special prefect tie in high esteem. When the opportunity arose for my friends and I to be elected as prefects, I was beyond ecstatic.

The backdrop was my first couple of years as an innocent almost invisible student. I was doing between well and fantastic in school (nowhere near the level of my primary school days) until I blossomed in my latter years. It’s almost as if I broke out of my shell and developed a voice of my own towards the end of high school shall we say. Anyway, there was no bootlicking leading up to the ceremony because I felt that my genuine self would be more than enough to earn a spot as one of the 23 prefects (21? I can’t remember.) Besides I’d done quite well for O-Levels. By joining one of three students to do splendid enough to attain Full Colours, cream blazer et al – I was ready. If my personality didn’t cut it (and I was convinced it did) then at least attaining Full Colours for Academics should do it… or should it?

So… to the moment. This was the day before the announcement. I had a feeling it was coming up soon because we were running out of assembly meetings for the announcement to take place (it always had to be at an assembly). Anyway, I was chatting to Ruva (somehow she’s always in these stories) and she brought up the question:

“So do you think you’re going to be a prefect?”

A perfectly reasonable question which warranted a perfectly reasonable response… of course I wouldn’t oblige. INSTEAD I would go on to make the single most ludicrous statement ever:

“Will the sun come up tomorrow?”

And I meant it.

So… I wasn’t elected as a prefect. Surnames were called out alphabetically and they skipped all the Ms that I and many others expected to hear. All three of the Full Colours squad, myself included, To be honest my heart sank. I could barely keep the “grief” inside. Why do I say “grief”? I wasn’t sad because I hadn’t achieved my dream or I wouldn’t have the capacity to do the good I had imagined I would in the role… I say “grief” because the pain I felt was born from certainty in pride. I couldn’t swallow the bitter pill of failure after having been absolutely, insanely, indisputably determined that at the end of that reading I’d be one of the names. A prefect… I wasn’t.

In hindsight I think that was one of the best decisions someone has ever made for me. My pride was astronomical at the time but it was sliced to ribbons thereafter. I learned that just wanting something to happen isn’t always enough. I learned to be gracious in “defeat”. I can’t think of any one of those young men that didn’t deserve that post, in hindsight as well as in real time they all did brilliantly. Also, if I was as ‘worthy’ as I’d thought initially, then the title/appointment should not have mattered, my personality and influence should have shone through regardless. But I don’t think that happened either. If I’m being honest with myself, at that time I wasn’t ready for the mantle… at least not as much as those 20 odd young men that did.

“So… are you a prefect?” she asked some time later.

Only this time there was no deafening laughter afterwards. Instead just my apologetic head bowed in defeat, finally humbled, beyond embarrassed and brought plummeting down to earth. I don’t think I’ll ever think or say anything as proud as I did that day. As a result, I’ll never be as embarrassed as I was that day – for pride and embarrassment go hand in hand.

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