This week, we present a Guest Blog Post by a Learn Smart Pakistan 2015 and 2016 participant. Arooj Usmani currently studies at I.M.C.G Korang Town in Class 10. She participated in Learn Smart Pakistan 2015 but did not make the final list of Winners. This year Arooj has won the Learn Smart Pakistan Summer Challenge 2016 Greatest Online Effort Award. Her interests and hobbies include computing, calligraphy and making others happy.

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Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I am writing to talk a little bit about my experience with the Learn Smart Pakistan 2016 Summer Challenge. But before I do that, I want to write a little about failure.

A normal part of any student’s life is taking part in different challenges and co-curricular activities. These help us learn how to win and, more importantly, how to lose. Losing is harder because it can destroy your self-esteem. Sometimes after a disappointment we can begin to feel that losing is a natural and consistent part of our life. It can be paralyzing. I know because I’ve experienced it and can testify first hand that ‘our thoughts lead our actions.’ If I think I can’t do anything I definitely am unable to do anything. It can become easy to blame others.

A little about my own story: I was in ninth class (last year) when I got a chance to participate in Learn Smart Pakistan for the first time. Ma’am Hira had come to our school for an announcement. I joined LSP eagerly and spent my days attempting as many assessments as I could. Imagine my happiness when I finally got the chance to make my mother and my teachers proud. I found I had qualified for the Pre-Award tests!

I remember the date: August 20, 2015. I went to the office and gave the test. I finished with 64% and assumed this would be enough to get me through. I went back home, logged into my LSP account and saw I was at the second position so far. I told my mother, I was so overjoyed. My father passed away four years ago so my siblings and I always share our happiest moments with our grandfather. He was also overjoyed for me.

The next day, I went to school and told my teachers too. They were also gleeful. I spent the school day walking on air because it felt like a dream had come true. That day, I went back home and logged back into my account just to remind myself again of my happiness. But this time I saw that I was in sixth position. I called Ma’am Hira who told me that the other students’ grades had also been checked. I remembered then that the top five students would get awarded. Imagine how I felt when I had to tell everyone I’d already told about winning that I actually had lost out by one place.

My mother was my rock during this time. She told me about how there was always a second chance and that I’d make it next time Insha Allah. But I was so disappointed. Everyone was still congratulating me, but the reality was different and I let it get to me last year. However, I picked myself up, dusted off my disappointment for the Summer Challenge 2016.

A year has passed since that first ‘failure’ and now my dreams and the reality matches. This year, I gave Learn Smart Pakistan 2016, everything I had. And it paid off. I won a tablet during the Summer Challenge! I wanted to write to convey, again, that persistence pays off. That failure is always one step closer to success, ironic as that seems.

 “The harder you work, the luckier you get”
– Gary Player

This year, when the results of the Summer Challenge were announced, I was happier for the runner ups. I knew that they had so many more chances during the year to make it to the Winner’s List.

Some more words I’ve found it useful to live by:

  • You are your own art.
  • Always have faith in Allah. He is the best planner…

Best of luck for what’s coming up!
- Arooj Usmani