PURE JOY: Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and her deputy, Enver Surty, with matric top achievers. Photo NOKUTHULA MBATHA/INL/ANA

With most schools starting the new academic year on Wednesday, this week is like the electric chair of reality checks.

We are all being dragged back to normal, kicking and screaming; and also well beyond the brink of being broke.

Social media was, of course, flooded with well-wishes from proud parents who received their children’s matric results last week.

It was wonderful to see the smiles of relief on the kids’ faces; the mixture of joy and panic on parents’ faces.

While they are all obviously very proud of their youngsters, the reality quickly set in that the precarious young adulthood years now lie ahead.

And if you thought high school was expensive

Many of the posts I saw were of parents boasting about their kids getting bachelor passes or aceing many of their exam papers with distinctions.


These are very exciting moments and hopefully the foundation of awesome futures for these youngsters.

I truly hope all their hopes and dreams are fulfilled in the most amazing ways and that all their hard work pays off with wonderful lives.

But as we know, Facebook can be a cauldron of deceit, where we only ever show our best lives.

So while there were hundreds of parents proudly showing off their children’s achievements, there were also hundreds of parents conspicuous in their silence.

The assumption is that their child didn’t do as well as they had hoped.

I want to take a moment to speak to those kids who did not pass matric 2018; those of you putting on a brave face, but are feeling quietly dejected, panicked and even worthless inside.

It’s true that this was one of THE biggest challenges in your young life and it’s true that you didn’t do as well as you had hoped.

It doesn’t really matter what the reasons are. Maybe you were distracted by life, had to deal with some tragedy, felt overwhelmed by the work, or simply just didn’t have your head in the game; it doesn’t matter anymore.

There is nothing you can do about what happened in 2018. But there’s a lot you can do about 2019 and 2020.

In fact, the entire foundation of what’s going to happen to you this year and the rest of your life is in your hands.

I’m sure by now you have seen dozens of quotes about failure and success, so I won’t patronise you with another one. They don’t really mean anything when days are dark.

Instead, I’ll quickly tell you my story. I started high school at Arcadia in Bonteheuwel and finished at St Columba’s in Athlone.

As a teenager, I was blessed with some intellect, but I made every mistake you can imagine. I always say that, on paper, I was supposed to end up as a gangster, a druggie or, at best, the most mediocre slacker known to man.

But I had a few problems that prevented that from happening. I loved life way too much. I loved being in control of my faculties, so drugs scared me.

And I was a stubborn kid who didn’t even consider failure as an adult. So I just kept on aiming for my dreams.

And I have failed many times along the way, but I keep on going. So don’t worry about having done poorly in matric.

Part of success is the many times you failed. It’s that journey that you’re going to look back on with fondness and wisdom one day. Just never give up, OK!