Growing up, failure was not an option for me. As a young kid, my parents encouraged me to study and really do my best in school. My mom was really devoted in my education; she always supervised me whenever I was doing homework and actively participated in parent-teacher consultations.
Every year in grade school I would end up receiving top honors in class. It was inevitable. It was almost as if I was wired not to fail or not experience failure, at least, and whenever I did my defeats were always overshadowed by an even bigger victory.
I’ve had bigger failures since teen angst kicked in, since I opened myself to a world beyond my comfort zone. Since then, I’ve had failures that were too great to be eclipsed by any milestone I’d achieved. For someone so used to getting what I want and how I want it, I struggled with the idea of losing my grip on things. Failing is one thing, but failing yourself and those who believe in you is another. Having all those wrapped into one dealt me a blow that was ten times heavier than any I’d ever experienced.
Getting over failures is easier said than done. It took me a while before I finally learned how to deal with it. Why? Aside from the fact that I wasn’t used to it, it somehow felt like my failures were etched on my skin like a tattoo for the world to see and I wasn’t comfortable feeling bare and being judged simply for my mistakes.
Naturally, I was told not to let my failures define me. I was advised to not take things personally. Shrug them off. Move on. Sure it worked for a while, but it never really gave me peace. I realized that all I was doing was simply just covering up a wound with Band Aid, without really tending to it first. I realized that all I was doing was set them aside for a while, until they come crawling back in like a thief in the night.
Recognizing my failures was an important step in getting past that roadblock. No, I did not (and still do not) let my failures define me, but I did not ignore the fact that my failures factor into how I was molded into the person that I am today. It’s all about acceptance; about making peace with the things you can’t change or fight off.
By accepting my failures I was able to understand where I went wrong. By not being blind to the mess I made of things, I was able to deconstruct it and analyze how I could’ve done better. Very simply, I learned and I adapted.
It’s very easy to get discouraged. Getting a failing mark, losing a game, not getting the job we’ve been hoping for—these are things that you will most likely encounter in your lifetime. These are all normal experiences. And by normal I mean these are things you can bounce back from and life can still go on as usual.
I always remember this Japanese proverb: Fall seven times, stand up eight. It’s okay to contemplate things. It’s okay to recognize that you made a mistake. What’s not okay, however, is when you dwell on it far more than you should.
I easily get affected by things—I easily get sad and depressed. And that’s okay. Sometimes, it’s okay to not be okay. But you have to remember that the show must go on. You must pick yourself up. You mustn’t be afraid to stand up and face your demons. Always.
I have a friend in law school that used to make me feel bad because she said she hasn’t failed academically, whereas I had failed at two subjects. It was insensitive for her to say, but I know better not to listen. Somehow, I am thankful for my failures. They have made me a stronger individual, and much more well-learned.
There’s a reason for why things happen. There’s a reason for why we have failures in life—and that’s to teach us a lesson. Failures humble you, make you more empathic. They strengthen us and, to a certain extent, make us better people.