Chantiny has had her shares of knocks, but no matter how many times she failed, she got back up and learnt from her mistakes. The young lady is now paving her career in Human Resources. Here, she shares her experience.
I’m sure you’ve already heard plenty of accounts from former students. I’m sure you’ve been told what and what not to do, by family or friends. I know I have. What I’ve learnt, however, is that at the end of the day, we all need to make our own experiences, because we can’t learn our own lessons through someone else. Going through something yourself is how you will end up cherishing who you’ve become, and what it took for you to get there. Here is my experience.
Life Begins After Matric
I am Chantiny Kanjee, a 24-year old woman originally from Klerksdorp and what I share with you today is what moulded me into the woman I am now, as well as the one I aspire to become.
Someone once told me, “Life begins after matric.”
At that time I thought, oh, what a grumpy know-it-all. But truth be told, that person couldn’t have been more right.
Klerksdorp Secondary School made me feel like a genius. I was a top-performing student, always gave my best, and enjoyed the recognition I received for my achievements. I used to strive on academic competition at school and this, regardless of challenges at home or in other areas of my life. But when I matriculated in 2009, I had no idea of what I was going to do.
University applications had already closed and I was very lucky to still be put on the shortlist for late applications.
No Point in Hasty Decisions
It was time to make fast decisions. Since I had always wanted to become a lawyer, I decided to enrol for studies in Law. When unfortunately my APS score wasn’t good enough for Law, I decided to enrol for Political Science – oh, what a mistake that was.
I failed horribly, not only because of my couldn’t-care-less attitude, but because I felt completely out of place. University life was very new to me, having come from a smaller town that functioned quite differently to fast-paced and social-ranking orientated Johannesburg.
Honestly, I felt worthless and I took one of the biggest emotional knocks of my life. I felt like I disappointed my parents, myself, and everyone else whose opinion was important to me. Failure eats away at your mind and manipulates you into thinking that there is no way out. But after two years of feeling sorry for myself and being a nuisance to my parents, I decided to do something about my situation. If those two years taught me anything, it was that I couldn’t allow previous failures and depression to destroy, shame, or control my life.
I enrolled at North-West University in Potchefstroom for the BA in Industrial Psychology and Labour Relations, after I had sat with my aunt and we reflected on different study options that would suit me. I had no idea what human resources management even was. This degree seemed ideal, as it was both business and people orientated.
It’s a 3-year degree that comprised of subjects like
- statistics that I was horrible at,
- labour relations
- industrial psychology
- labour law
Luck was on my side, and I got a second chance at making something of my life. NWU Potchefstroom felt very welcoming. I could approach lecturers, and felt like I was someone – not just a student number. There was no materialistic expectation of me.
Never the less I faced challenges. I stuffed up a few modules that I had to repeat, and as a result, my 3-year degree ended up being 4 years. It was my own fault, because I made bad choices by focusing more on partying, watching series, and last-minute study missions… activities that most students love (admittedly, I do work better under time pressure).
Failing modules was definitely another knock, and a harsh wake-up call.
By that time, though, I had learnt to get back up after a knock. No one is perfect, and sometimes it takes a few hick-ups until you’re reminded of your goal. Long story short, through the help of my family, God, and my friends, I shifted my focus back to my goal – being responsible and successfully completing my degree.
I also had a lot of support from the amazing NGO called Enactus, an organisation that brings together students, academics, and business leaders committed to using entrepreneurial action to improve the lives of others.
And so, I pushed my way through failure, problems at home, as well as ups and downs in friendship and relationships.
The moral of my story is that life will always try to get you down, but you need to respect yourself enough to make your own right and wrong choices, and get back up. No career path or job title will make you perfect, and it is up to you to stay humble, young at heart, and true to yourself.
Life After Graduation
Towards the end of my final year, I started working at the NWU’s student wellness centre where I was exposed to a bit of labour relations and a lot of human resources related work. The influence it had on me was huge, as I discovered that I love to work with people and would rather be in an occupation that benefits people individually, and not just a company.
After graduation I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of Anglo Gold Ashanti’s community interns. It’s been the experience of a lifetime, and I’m happy that I found something that related to my studies in line with human resources management.
My Advice to Anyone
At some point, everyone fails. And fails by choice. Yes, by choice. Sometimes we let our personal life get in the way of things, or we get distracted, or foster bad attitudes, and thereby choose to shift our focus away from the goal.
The key is to take charge, re-shift your focus back to what’s important, and go for it with full force.
In terms of my studies and the career path I’ve chosen, my advice for anyone wanting to something similar is as follows. If you have a passion for people and business, then studies in Industrial Psychology and Labour Relations can benefit you greatly on all levels – financially, academically, and emotionally.
Always remember, there is no such thing as as ‘I can’t.’
Your life is what you make of it. Don’t let yourself down, because, guess what – you are all you’ll ever have. That much I know.
Many students experience setbacks during their studies. It’s normal to face challenge, and it’s okay to experience lows – what matters is that you get back up, shift your attitude, and go for what you want. If you want to read another inspiring account, check out how Devon went from nearly failing high school, to completing a Masters degree and writing his own book.