At the end of the my eighth year at school I was awarded a Merit Award in Engineering.
You might think that such an award would do wonders for an awkward thirteen year old. You would be correct, but it was also a curse of sorts. You see - one had to collect the award in front of a full school assembly of 1200 students and board members.
I vividly recall the stairs leading to the stage; the trip wires and claymore mines to trap those who dared step in the wrong spot. I recall the practices for the junior students, so they wouldn't fall and ruin the look of the whole prize giving event. Such was their faith in us.
No matter how hard they instructed there was always someone who failed the test; someone who didn't follow the teachers instruction to the letter, someone who walked a little too quickly, or didn't watch where they were stepping and caught the wire. Many people died during the Taieri High School ceremonies over the years.... or so it seemed...
I believe it was fair to say that after that initial experience, I shunned any possibility of overachieving again during my school years - which was a pity, as I really could have done much better.
When I moved onto my career in Telecommunications I gravitated to working with the most intelligent technician in the group. He didn't suffer fools, which was unfortunate, as I was quite foolish in those days. I did, however, survive the process to become "adequate" by my "Sensei's" opinion - which actually meant I was immanently employable when my employer decided we were both no longer required.
I've grown in my current job - my second real job - in some ways it has taken time to step out of the shadow of my origins, and with a little help from a brilliant manager, given a voice that is finally heard.
A lifetime away from booby trapped stage stairs, today my name was called and a walked up the stage in front of my peers. The trip wires were gone, replaced by spotlights and television cameras. I shook the hand of my GM and CEO, and along with others, thanked for going the extra mile.
I'd like to say the horrors of the past were gone, and with them the fear of success; but upon reflection I've come to realise all those events have only contributed to the mosaic that is my life.
For better or worse I am who I am...