By Ndukwu Chibundom Kaosisochukwu - July 15, 2022


Have you ever worked as hard as you can to get something, be something, only to fail after being almost certain that you would succeed?

Have you ever felt the soul-crushing wave of defeat that usually takes over people at times like that, that feeling of defeat that grows and develops into the feeling of resignation, the feeling that eventually leads to your giving up on the one thing that you were sure that you were able to be successful in?

Have you ever had that soul-sinking feeling of realising that the dreams that you have had for years, the fantasies of the life that you felt would be yours might not, might never actually come to pass?

I am sure that we all have had times like this, times in which we have had to deal with the reality of the fact that hard work is not necessarily what guarantees success and that there is a possibility that you could work harder than everyone else in the room for something and still be the one to come out as the least successful.

Sure, for most people, this happens only in some endeavours and not in all of them. For me, it occurred during the time that I ventured into competitive essay writing and the occasional creative writing contests, back then between 2019 and 2020. I worked as hard as I could on the essays that I wanted to win and read as many books as I could find on academic legal writing and the likes, but somehow, I never did win, at least in the national level competitions.

It was easy for me to win in the occasional local university competitions though, those that usually had less strict criteria for success and fewer participants involved in them. But for those with difficult topics that required extensive research, huge prizes to be won, and participants that come from either around the country or around the world, I never emerged as anything. I never was able to get any of the prizes that I wanted to get, that I struggled to attain.

As for my creative writing, I was unfortunate enough to have begun a story that I had gotten into a rot in, and even though I spent that period taking course after course on creative writing and reading books on creative writing, I was not able to find a way around the story that I had come up with. In an even sadder turn of events, I had entered into several contests, one of them being a particularly grueling one that I was sure that I was going to win but ended up losing at the final stage.

And so, after the countless failures that marked the lockdown period for me, I simply lost hope in myself, in my writing abilities, both for fiction and non-fiction. By the time the school session began after the extended strike and I delved back into my academic studies, writing for me had been locked up and thrown into a trunk. I was not sure that I was ever going to be able to bring myself to write anymore; at least not in the way that I thought that I was going to end up writing.

But that did not matter, or at least that was what I told myself. I was a good law student, a great one even. I aced almost all of my papers and I, after the initial struggle, had managed to even include myself in all sorts of extra-curricular activities that I was doing great in. Of course, there were times, at least ten percent of the time, in which I would see an essay or two that was so alluring that I decided to give a shot at it, only to pass only ten percent of the time as well.

But as for my creative writing, the one that was really devastated by, the one that I had cried over, I had considered it over for me. I felt that I was never going to become the writer that I wanted to be. And it did not help that I did not get myself to sit down and think of new ideas to write about, and due to some perfectionist trait that I had, I could not get myself to be decided on a few that I came up with, thinking them not good enough to come out as a second book after such a long time of having a dry spell.

And again, it did not help that in all the visits that I went to with my parents, about seventy percent of the time, there was bound to be an interaction in which someone would ask who was the writer in the family, and then all eyes would be on me, and then I would be asked when another book would be coming up, and then I would feel like swallowing myself as I told them soon, hopefully soon.

Yep, losing hope in oneself, in one’s abilities, it sucks. It really does.

And what sucks more is the trunk load that it comes with.

I am sure that you all know what I am talking about. But here, let me list out a few of them: loss of self-esteem, shame, disappointment, embarrassment, even guilt, loss of self-respect, branding oneself as a failure and so many others.

You see, there is a difference between feeling down about a loss and completely losing hope in oneself. A lot of the time, when people, particularly those with a growth mindset, fail in an endeavour, they feel down, but after some time, if another endeavour that looks similar shows up, there is a high chance that they would hop in to try once again. But repeated failures can do things to the heart of even those with a fixed mindset.

And you know the thing that is so complicated about this? It is the fact that there are times that it could be logical to decide to pack things up, to pursue a new endeavour, to decide that there is no way that you could be good at this thing that you so desperately want to get and decide that by sticking up to this dream, this construction that you have built of yourself, you are limiting yourself, holding yourself back from the one thousand other things that you could be doing.

For instance, you would not tell someone that does not have the build of a basket baller, someone that is five feet tall and not naturally athletic that desperately wants to go against the six to seven-foot tall giants that are in the same court that he is at and that has failed consistently, for an extended time, to just keep trying and to never give up. No. if you love the person, you would sit the person down and let the person understand that there is no way that he could be successful in that endeavour and that it is time to let go of that dream and move on.

But then, should that always be the answer to consistent failure? And if not, what draws the line? If two people fail a thousand times at something, what would make someone try to make one person realise that perhaps it is time to give up while pushing the other person to try again, just one more time?

What marks the difference between when it is wrong to pack the trunk, lose hope and let go of some dreams and when it is the right thing to do?


I wish that I could say that I had a revelation as to the fact that perhaps, letting go of my dreams was not really the right step to take. How much I would have loved to come here and share the miraculous story of the experience that I had in which I realised that perhaps I was wrong in deciding that all was lost for me, that perhaps I was too hasty in my decision to let go of a talent that I knew that I had.

But there isn’t.

Turning back to my writing did not take overnight. It took time. The occasional fiddling that I did on my journals and my laptop, the different books that I read that did nothing but make me crave writing, even more, and the occasional times that I had a reminder that my stories were enjoyed by people. Watching my younger brother read the first book that I wrote a hundred times, not because of me, but because he liked the book that I wrote. Occasionally having someone come to me and tell me that he or she had read something that I had written and thought that it was really good.

I guess the biggest moment was when I found out about web novel writing, the avenue that I felt that I could pour all those ideas that I felt were not good enough to be in print, and then actually getting a readership on some of the books that I wrote. Eventually, it just happened. Over the strike, I realized that I was working more on my typing speed so that I could write more, and that the dream that I had always had of starting my blog had been resurrected in me. And then I realised that whatever thing that I felt, whatever it was that made me give up hope on my writing and think that there was no way that I was actually going to be able to become the writer that I always wanted to be, was gone.


And again, the question of what made the difference comes into view. That was not the first time that I had given up on something before. I gave up on science after I encountered chemistry in SS1, I gave up on dancing by the time I entered secondary school for some reason. I gave up on wanting to enter school politics. I gave up on chess because I no longer had the time for it, on origami, and so many other things.

Like any other human being, my life has been filled with times in which I have abandoned pursuits and found other things to pursue. Of course, this occurred more as a child, but as I grow, it still happens sometimes. In a way, being able to let go of certain pursuits and take hold of others is all a part of growth.

So why, when I let go of writing for that brief period of time, did I not mark it as one of the other things that I had done many times?

I guess it was because letting go of it did not just come easy, but came from a deep feeling of failure. But that was not all. I guess it all boiled down to purpose, and to listening to my heart.

Because in the end, there is no equation that tells you when you should let go of certain pursuits and embrace another. Sure, you could say that when one’s genetics is patterned away from what the person wants to pursue, it is not really right for the person, but it is not so clear-cut out.

When should you let go of something? Give up hope of getting something? When, deep down, you know that there is some other agenda driving your obsessive need to get that particular thing, some other agenda outside of that which you have been carved out to do. When you know that obsessively pursuing that thing is preventing you from growing as a person.

Sometimes it is brave to let go of things. Sometimes, it is toxic to keep telling yourself to cling to things, onto unattainable goals, because the world keeps pushing the ‘Don’t give up’ mantra down your throat.

And when you should not? When letting go of it feels as though you have let go of a part of yourself that you are not willing to let go of, not because of whatever benefits that you think it might get you, but because, deep down, you know that this is what you are supposed to do, this is what you have been carved out to do.

When letting go of a particular pursuit makes you feel as though you have created a vacuum in your life, one that you know cannot be filled by any other thing but the thing that you have let go of.

When you know, deep down, despite the failures, despite the letdowns, the heartbreaks, the slow tear to your self-esteem, that this is what you are meant to do, that all you have to do is get better and then let the star within you shine.

Simply put, when you know that the one thing that you have been failing at is your purpose and that the fact that you failed in it does not make it any less than that.

But what if you are not sure of whether you are taking the right step by letting go of something?

Take a break. It clarified me and made me realise that I was abandoning something that I was created to do, created to reach the world with, just because I had experienced a few failures. Of course, one of two things can happen to you, but if you take that break with the idea that it is meant to give you some mental clarity, then you will get that mental clarity that you desire.

And of course, there is no better way of getting mental clarity than actually being spiritually sensitive enough to communicate with the Holy Spirit and let Him reveal to you whether your failures are a result of the fact that you are treading down the wrong path or whether they are just hurdles that you have to pass through so that you can train yourself enough to be able to be truly revealed to the world.

So are you losing hope in yourself, in your ability to do something that you have been pursuing?

Don’t give up, only if you are sure that the one thing that you are pursuing is your purpose in life and not some triviality.

And if that one thing that you are about to give up on is your purpose in life?

Don’t do injustice to yourself, to the world, because of the crushing defeat that you are feeling along the way. The fact remains that in life, there is no true easy route for anybody. Even in that one thing that you are certain is your purpose, you are still bound to meet and face obstacles that will threaten to tear down your resolve and every other thing.

But do not let your failures be the things that will cripple you, dim your light, or let you go to the grave having failed to achieve the things that you have been created to achieve. Because that is the real failure, not losing in contests or failing at applications or not growing the network that you want to grow, but not letting the failures define what steps you take, letting the failures prevent you from achieving your purpose.

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  1. This is really nice, God bless you

  2. This is inspiring. Your delivery is excellent and flows smoothly. A very maturef perspective from a young girl.
    Super proud of you ! ! Best wishes.

  3. Yet another exceptional write-up from an amazing writer.

    I'm glad you're not letting any hurdle stop you and super thanks to you for using your creativity to encourage others.

    Keep creating. Never stop! Your light will shine brighter and brighter and will never grow dim.

  4. I like the part about your brother reading the book a hundred times .really inspiring

  5. Waooooo.. beautiful piece @ Kaosi. Quite inspiring. Yes, there is always that which speaks to our soul on what our purpose on earth is. Even when we fail severally and ultimately call it quit, yet deep down within there is that witness that this is what we are meant to be or do.
    Keep it up because you are actually helping people define their purpose on earth.