Dealing with setbacks is not taught in schools

Csilla Üvegesová was awarded 1st place in Category B of the Leaf Academy’s English Essay Competition.

Csilla ÜvegesováCsilla Üvegesová (Source: Courtesy of LEAF Academy)

This essay was chosen as one of the best essays in its category in the English Essay Competition organised by LEAF Academy, an international boarding high school in Bratislava. The competition was open to all Slovak students from primary and secondary schools who are passionate about writing in the English language. The Slovak Spectator has not edited the essays as participants were awarded partly on their English-language skills.

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There is no denying that without schools, the world’s future would not be the brightest. School is where we learn to read, write and count. We are always encouraged to learn how to concentrate, use our logical and critical thinking, do our best on our exams and be cooperative. This is not coincidental since these abilities are indispensable for everyone. However, there are some things which we never hear about in our lessons.

We have never been taught how to deal with successes and failures. We know how to work to achieve our goals, but we have never really been informed about managing our successes, nor disappointments. Moreover, we have never been told how to handle our constant urge to achieve something. We know how to follow the steps heading for success, but most of us cannot control our fear of not being able to keep up with others. Society is placing an increasing burden on our shoulders through its unfulfillable expectations. It sets precise limits to success and thus destroys everything we believed in as little children.

Students graduate from school and enter adulthood believing that there is always only one correct answer, the boundaries are set and cannot be widened. We live in a vision that everything has to be done at a certain time, otherwise, our chances and hard work will be lost. Sometimes this outlook does not hold up, since plenty of situations are not linear. For instance, healing from disappointment in love cannot be hurried, nor can healing from grief or other great losses. What needs to be healed, needs time.

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Speaking of healing, it is hard not to get too close to someone and only the real world will show us the importance of practising nonattachment to people. This is related to disappointment in people, that is, to the fact that someone has been misjudged by us. People are afraid of mistakes and changes, especially changing their opinions because it means they would have to admit they were wrong. At school, we are taught not to make mistakes and if we makesome mistakes, instead of being encouraged to learn from them, we are punished for them. But after all, everyone makes mistakes and crosses lines that should not be crossed and therefore everyone deserves a second chance to correct themselves. But why do we punish ourselves so much then?

In addition, two necessary skills are highly regarded due to their rarity. Those are asking for forgiveness and forgiving others. Both of these require a huge amount of courage. Asking for forgiveness is challenging for the humans’ ego, but it is truly releasing. I would be the happiest person if we normalized assertive communication and forgiveness because we will not be less by apologizing and forgiving others. It is like receiving a gift that heals a human's soul.

Dealing with setbacks is not taught in schools, however, in the real world, we will meet hundreds, maybe thousands of them. Schools do not prepare students for behaviours that come from human’s selfishness or jealousy, yet sooner or later, everyone will encounter it. Furthermore, it is essential to know how to recognize cheaters and liars in everyday life. Although meeting people with bad intentions is unpredictable, we should know how to prevent these unpleasant situations. Unfortunately, everyone will go through such things without being prepared to handle them adequately.

Additionally, we can see a lot of people do not value themselves. One might claim it is not the schools’ obligation to teach children some self-respect, but honestly, if we were already taught to value and cherish ourselves at home, we would not feel ashamed for our appearances and personalities. If all of us valued ourselves, we would not compare ourselves to each other. In some homes, this kind of upbringing absents, and students cross the threshold of the real life with apparently low self-esteem.

In a world like this, where everyone is in a hurry and needs to have everything done immediately, it is sometimes better to do a step back to prepare yourself for doing two steps forward afterwards. But we are hit by so many impulses that we almost think it's a mistake to slow down and relax. As soon as we decide to spend Friday night alone instead of spending time with others, we experience the, nowadays very well-known, fear of missing out. It is a pity that we are not taught to take breaks.

All in all, numerous useful skills are not part of the school curriculum. We are forced to experience everything on our own skin, which is lamentable in many ways, but there is also a silver lining. After all, what would make life interesting if we left school behind with all the world's knowledge in our pocket?

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