Not only was she the smartest person in her school, but now, surely the smartest in this room. Her arrogance knew no bounds. She was me and I was 10 years old.
I sat in a room filled with other kids my age all of us trying to get a scholarship to a private school. Not only was I sure I’d aced the test, I finished every section first and made it known I was finished. There was even an answer or two (on the standardised multiple choice test) that wasn’t correct in the booklet – not to worry, I simply wrote my own. Double checking my answers? No need when you’re sure you’re right the first time.
Not surprisingly, I was not awarded a scholarship in that year. And that crushing defeat (I’d rarely been denied anything academic before then) was exactly what I needed. Had I got a scholarship that year I might have spent the rest of my life thinking as I had done that day.
Instead, the next year, at 11 (grade 6 for those reading in the Australian school system), I sat in the exam room a changed person. I didn’t care about finishing first, or who knew it. I double, triple, quadruple checked every calculation and every answer. Oh – and I figured out that if my answer wasn’t on the multiple choice answer sheet that I probably didn’t have the right answer.
Months later when the results came in my parents handed me an envelope. I remember clearly reading the results and then calmly walking outside Sullivan’s restaurant (on the main street of Deloraine, Tasmania) and screaming as loudly as I could at the top of my lungs as excited as I’d ever been to read something (the screaming was much to my parents’ horror).
I took the lessons I learned at 10 in with me to every exam and test thereafter and I wouldn’t have learned them without going through some fairly mortifying and crushing defeat. What’s defeating you now to transform you in the future?
From broke at 19 to retired at 27, Kirsty Dunphey is an entrepreneur, mother and author, and lives by the motto Memento Vivere (remember to live).