Why do you find solace in your friend’s poor performance when you fail too?

Abigail Oyinkan Olajire
3 min readMay 29, 2022
Brett Jordan from Unsplash

I had a light conversation with my youngest sister some time ago when she briefly mentioned that she failed a course and was not even bothered because the smartest student in her class performed poorly too!

Does that sound familiar?

Sincerely, I was green with amazement at her response to the situation and tried to query that mindset. Why exactly was she relaxed?

Perhaps, the tutor might call for another test since a majority failed, especially the genius? What is wrong with her doing better? She wasn’t even bothered about if she read or not? Probably her reading yielded nothing, which should actually bother her.

She was just focused on the fact that her smart classmate failed too. I still wonder if that provoked her to do better?

And think about it too, it’s not just in the classroom. Even at work, why do staff indulge in a bad habit at work? Because other colleagues are indulging in that habit?

Your boss gets late to work and then you intentionally do the same and feel no remorse. You find solace in the fact that “my boss and others did it, so doing the same will not stir up a hornets’ nest”.

But I beg to differ- Why couldn’t you take advantage of the situation to be your best?

In order to avoid a monotonous write-up based on the actions of one person (my sister), my curiosity led me to ask a few friends. For a robust and pluralistic view, I conducted a survey on twenty (20) respondents who had varying performances in schools across the world.

So here are a few of their points when I asked how they felt when the smartest student in your class fails too?

A Nigerian graduate noted that ‘there’s a little sense of comfort when the smartest kid fails.’ And another attested to this fact by stating that ‘it often helped in consoling myself if I underperformed.’ However, another friend of mine averred that ‘‘No feeling, I worry about myself usually.’ Well, maybe because he graduated as one of the best in the class (First class degree), so he had to always thrive to be the best. Infact, the respondent mentioned that he has never failed a course before!

Another one from Canada shed more light when she pointed out that ‘I think in high school I cared. But now in university, I have no idea who the smartest student is. But I guess it’s a sense of comfort knowing the exam is difficult’. For her mental health sake, she prefers not to know and perhaps feels it’s a high school syndrome.

So, I think my sister is not the only one in that shoe.

My whole point of writing this is that we must stop giving excuses! Some scholars observed, rightly, that excuses do have social and personal implications. They said ‘excuse-makers risk being seen as deceptive, self-absorbed, and ineffectual; they are viewed as unreliable social participants with flawed character These undesired consequences result when excuses are used in ways that lower credibility (e.g., fail to receive corroboration), lower goodwill’.

All for excuse-makers!

I will never hand over a sensitive tasks to an excuse-maker or an individual who is in constant search for who to throw the blame on. Never! We always want to work or relate with people are can take responsibilities for their actions- good or bad.

I will conclude with this short statement- make sure you take every opportunity to be your best, it might cost you something (usually temporarily), but the harvest is worth it!




Abigail Oyinkan Olajire

I am a health communication researcher interested in creating and implementing cultural competent solutions to health problems for underserved communities.