Dear Aunty Agni,
I am a 20-year-old girl writing to you as I am going through the darkest period of my life. Starting with academics, I failed a very important MDCAT exam, which I had repeated after taking a gap year. This year I gave this whole exam, I sacrificed so much for it, I suffered physical and mental exhaustion but in the end I couldn’t get the grade I wanted. I have been very depressed and have not been able to deal with this. I have not so supportive parents who invalidate my emotions. I have fallen behind in life and thoughts of future uncertainty are making my condition worse. I have no idea what to do and it’s getting me nowhere. I have no one else to turn to, so I am writing to you in the hope that you will advise me.

Dear Failed,
You can try again if you really believe that medicine is your calling. However, as many of our young people are forced into the medical profession, I would advise you to do some research into what you really want to do. Be honest with yourself. After some serious introspection, if you come to the conclusion that medicine is for you, go ahead and prepare for the exam again. If you come to the conclusion that you are pursuing the wrong field, think about what you want to do and start pursuing it.

“I feel like a total failure”

However, this is the time to also realize that there is more to life than wallowing in the face of failure. I know it feels like the end of the world to you and others may be making you feel like it is, but it isn’t. Besides, there is no one else in the world who has ever failed. Not even your parents or anyone else who isn’t supporting you right now. Show me someone who has never failed and I will show you a live cow that is purple and can talk!

On a serious note though, there is an urgent need to normalize failure in this world and remove the fear surrounding it. Only when you accept failure as a normal part of everyone’s life can you talk about why things didn’t work and move toward better outcomes and solutions. In fact, stop using the word error and call it a test or an attempt that didn’t work. In short, something you have to go through to achieve future success.

Failing the MDCAT sucks, but it’s not the end of life for you. It means the beginning of something new. You decide what direction your life should take now. Failing the exam could be life’s way of telling you to try harder next year and change the way you prepare for the exam. It could also be life’s way of telling you to pursue something else. Something that is more in line with your personality. Life might be pushing you in another direction that might be easier for you. Whichever path you try to take, the one thing anyone can tell you for sure is that there will be many more challenges ahead.

Use this time also to read and study in detail the lives of prominent and “successful” public figures. Inevitably you will find that they have all failed multiple times and keep doing it. At the end, I would like to quote the iconic dialogue of my favorite actor Shah Rukh Khan: “Image abhi baaqi hai meray dost” [The movie is still not over my friend].

Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is in crisis and/or feeling suicidal, go to the nearest emergency room and seek medical help immediately.

Auntie will not respond privately to any queries. Please send concise inquiries to: auntieagni@gmail.com

Posted in Dawn, EOS, January 22, 2023

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