Note: This post was something I first wrote and published nearly a year ago. Having read it now, I realized how much it still resonates to me to this day. I’ve edited a bit of the post and added some things but the point still remains the same. Enjoy! 🙂
In this success-driven world that we live in, failure is something we’d rather not experience. (Like at all, please??)
It’s something embedded into our minds as early as when we were kids. We don’t like seeing the red marks on our paper because our parents don’t, right? We spray away failure like we spray away mosquitoes.
But something surprised me when I Googled ‘failure’ for this post. I was immediately bombarded by links with the same theme:
It’s amazing how the idea had spread over every industry like a wildfire. But it had the most tremendous impact in the competitive fields of business and arts. You’ve seen and read the success stories. And they all have that same format.
“I’ve had 10 failed projects in my career… BEFORE BUILDING MY MILLION-DOLLAR ONE!”
“My 499th audition gave me my big break!”
“After 18 years of searching, I’ve finally proven the existence of unicorns!*”
This tells us that persistence will pay off. And that’s great! It motivates people not to be disheartened when you fail. Besides, failure is needed for us to thrive. It’s a core ingredient in trial-and-error. And it lets us know what not to do to be successful.
However, this “failure is the secret to success” bit can also further feed that success-driven mentality, deliberately deceiving yourself that failing will actually bring you nearer to success.
And that’s not at all good yo.
Romanticizing failure does not necessarily make you any closer to success.
I mean, I totally agree that it’s a great way to not get discouraged and not go total Eeyore mode, giving up on life. But there’s a fine line between encouragement and false hope.
The thing is: not everybody will succeed. And failing? Sucks.
When I graduated in high school, I subconsciously brought with me this reassurance and certainty that college will be the same. I was like, “College? Pssh, cake.”
Dear past self: They’re. Not. The. Same.
If high school was Super Mario Level 7**, college is Flappy Bird. No levels. Just pure agony.
And that cold water of reality didn’t splash onto my arrogant face until my second year in college. I didn’t reach the cut-off for a major subject and I was bummed. No, scratch that, I was more than bummed. I was devastated.
It was like a super-confident bump car driver who likes to constantly flip his hair tried driving a ten-wheeler truck for the first time. And he ends up clutching tight at the wheels and crying for his mommy.
So I’m not gonna argue with you. Failure hurts like Gordon Ramsey telling you that sunny-side egg you cooked isn’t even worthy to be served to dogs.
It hits your self-confidence and shatters your spirit. And to someone currently experiencing failure, being told “everything will be okay” may not be the best mood-lifter. And neither is the rhetoric of failure leading to success.
See, success may come later. But failure needs to be dealt now.
So sure, you may reach success afterwards. May. Meaning there’s a possibility that you won’t. And I’m not trying to be Jenny Rain Cloud here. It’s a fact.
For most of our lives, success is something that we will accomplish in the future. But failure can happen any minute and it’s experienced at present, so you deal with it now. If you don’t, failure doesn’t lead to anything good at all.
So then, Kate, how do we deal with failure?
Great that you ask. Here are three things you could do:
<3 Don’t think that the entire universe is ganging up against you. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve had my fair share of years being an angsty kid and thinking everybody hates me. They don’t–or… not all of them do. Every person you’ve met has faced failure to a certain degree.*** And the universe is just being the huge thing that it is. In fact, leave the stars alone; they’re minding their own beautiful twinkly business yo.
<3 Think, instead, of what lessons you could take away from failing. Remember that 4-step cure I shared for missed opportunities? Missed opportunities are kinda like failures too. And it always helps to see that even the most awful things have a positive takeaway you can carry your whole life. Lastly…
<3 Give yourself the time to feel all the awful. If there was one thing I’ve learned in Pixar’s Inside Out, it’s that there is nothing wrong with feeling the negative things. It’s okay to feel bad.
There will be happy, colorful moments (like when you’ve proven unicorns are real) and there will be sucky ones (like when you realize you were just dreaming).
So really, it’s okay to feel bummed out or even devastated that you failed at something you’ve worked so hard for 🙂 Use up an entire box of tissues, if you must! But when you’re done, get up and start moving.
Because at the end of the day, success won’t come to you. You run towards it.
After having my pity party for like a day or two, I had to get back on my study desk and hit the books again because I had that comprehensive exam to face.
I passed said exam and I’m contented now. I even have this newfound determination to put in more effort into my studies 🙂 And I realized, I probably won’t have such a huge character development if it weren’t for failure.
And here’s the catch.
Yes, failure may lead to success. But for that to happen, you don’t just give yourself encouragements and confidence-boosters. You have to put in some hard work and effort, too 🙂
That’s how the bump car driver learns how to drive ten-wheelers. That’s how you cook a sunny-side egg that will have Gordon Ramsey on foodgasm.
That’s how you will grow.
Your turn! What is your biggest failure in life so far? How did you cope and rise out of it? Share what you learned!
Have an inspired day, awesome peeps! <3
Other awesome articles to read about this topic:
Challenging Success-via-Failure | Psychology Today
How Fear of Failure Destroys Success | Lifehack.org