Fifteen-year-old Jacob Williamson’s supreme confidence in his ability to spell “kabaragoya” has made him an internet meme and an object of mockery by adults who have absolutely no idea how to spell “kabaragoya.”
Williamson struck out by spelling the word — I have no idea what it means — with a C instead of a K. But because he announced “I know it! I totally know it!” with unchecked enthusiasm and a nasal twang before getting it wrong, video of his error has raced across the internet, accompanied by words like “fail.” (There’s an obligatory “Turn Down for What” remix.)
But watch again. Everyone fails, but not everyone deals with failure like Williamson. Informed of his error, he acknowledges it immediately, though a bit wistfully, with the maturity of a much older man. Then he graciously exchanges high-fives with his opponents and leaves the stage with dignity. The audience erupts in cheers.
Do the rest of us handle defeat this way? Or do we insist we were right, point to some supposed loophole, say the sun was in our eyes, and demand another chance? Most of us live in an echo chamber that reinforces our existing views and opinions. We hold those views so strongly that we can’t even recognize objectivity when we see it. A spelling bee is one of the last bastions of simple fact.
Confronted with the truth, Williamson accepts it and moves on with disappointment, but grace. That’s a skill more important than winning a spelling bee, and will help him to win at life.
Recently people made fun of President Obama for misspelling the word hit “Respect” in a tribute to Aretha Franklin. We should all have lots of R-E-S-P-E-C-T to Jacob Williamson.
Watch the video: