The path towards success is seen as an arena where the competition is guaranteed to be ferocious. It does not need to be that way at all.

The path towards success is seen as an arena where the competition is guaranteed to be ferocious. It does not need to be that way at all. 

A few months ago, I did something that I would consider a milestone. I made a bold decision in regards to my education career, as I realized that I had been lured by the fictitious idea of constant achievement for my entire life. As an outcome of that, I decided to give a talk in TEDxYouth Maastricht named “The Game of Education”.

It was simply an outburst of raw criticism towards myself, with the hope of easing a long lasting pain. Yet more importantly, it was a sturdy advice for people who are making similar mistakes. Therefore, I felt the duty to warn them as I knew how severe the consequences could be. Those mistakes were driven by the definitions of success, failure. To pursue a life that is comprised of an abstract, unrealistic and harmful state, full of so-called achievements to be marked as continuous success. Whereas anything but success is considered failure.

Trending education systems are race tracks where students push themselves to limits both mentally and physically, just to increase the number of recognitions, acceptances and scholarships regardless of their actual interests and abilities.

The modern day education is shaped around the core idea that you need to eliminate the opponents in order to access the opportunities. The path towards success is seen as an arena where the competition is guaranteed to be ferocious. Thus, the most leading institutes are occupied with automatons who have been desperate to gain validation of themselves, sometimes without even noticing.

These people will realize that this constant combat will not end unless they truly steer themselves to the character they actually want to be. Recognizing what they truthfully want to achieve in life. If not, the consequences they will face could be unbearable. Maybe not today nor tomorrow, but someday, their approach will reflect itself, and that day could be too late to take actions to make a change. They may have repelled their beloved ones and missed important moments in their life. This truthful recognition is especially vital when those times are when we need to define ourselves. As a student who misdefined his successes and failures, I can assure you that this mentality could cause one to fail as an individual in life, not only as a student in school.

I knew that the only way for me to stand a chance to convey this message was by exposing myself and my story. I had to stay strong while I would be most vulnerable.

However, I did not know whether I was ready or not. There was one way to figure it out and I was going to take my chances. It was a bold maneuver but it had to be done. Regardless of the likely possibility of me failing, somehow I went up that stage and gave a talk, which I could watch only few weeks after.  I realized how even this small occasion helped me start a new chapter in my life. One in which I ask myself “What do I want to achieve?” rather than just shouting “I want to achieve”.

I look around myself with the enthusiasm of making a change instead of winning over others. Only now I can say that I have my redemption. I had to change and move on, while I spread the lessons I have learned along the way. That’s why I gave this talk. I needed it. We needed it.

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Dogukan Günayd?n was born in Istanbul, Turkey. Since an early age he was exposed to a competitive education system where he was determined to succeed, leading him to complete his primary school as a valedictorian....

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