Art by Vivian Hsia
A failure is a success in my eyes.
Fear of failure is oftentimes less about the act of failing and more about the consequences of failing — it is a fear of criticism, embarrassment and looking like a “loser,” according to VeryWell Mind.
When people fail, they do not lose all chances at success, but they do risk changing how others perceive them, according to VeryWell Mind. In my experience, however, failure is nothing to be scared of — it is something to be proud of.
There are many reasons failure causes people not to succeed in the future. For one, society has placed a negative connotation surrounding the idea of failure, according to the National Library of Medicine.
I have noticed that with failure comes judgment or pity, but with success comes praise and respect.
In reality, failure leads people to success, so therefore it is a success to fail.
Failing doesn’t mean one cannot ever achieve what they failed in, but rather they know what didn’t work so they can achieve if they try again.
I have failed countless times in my life. Just this semester, I failed at a fairly simple lemon and chicken pasta recipe. I failed at my goal to keep my screen time below three hours per day. I also failed an exam for the first time ever.
My instinctive reaction to all of those failures was to avoid putting myself in that situation again — I even considered not studying for my next exam so, if I failed it, I could blame it on not studying rather than my level of intelligence.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
I noticed how afraid I was of being the reason for failing. I was worried the judgment from others of failure might be true — if I try and still fail, maybe I am a loser.
In order to prove myself a success, I overloaded myself with tasks I knew I could not handle all at once. I thought because I was piling things on, however, I would at least be able to succeed at one of them.
I quickly learned overwhelming myself was not the solution to my problem. I was sleeping less, exercising less and spending less time with people I care about to put effort into all that I had taken on. Instead of looking for how I could learn from my failures, I set myself up to fail even more.
By the middle of October, I reached my breaking point. All my efforts to make myself feel like I was “good enough” had failed.
Even the few undertakings I did achieve felt like failures, because I was sacrificing my mental, physical and emotional health for it. I realized amid working to create a positive image of myself in the eyes of others, I was degrading myself in the process.
I ended up dropping a class I was actually passing, with a W/P, so I could place more focus on the classes I was failing. I also scheduled free time into my Google Calendar — which I do not always follow to a tee — to keep me in line when I want to edit Graphic stories at 2 a.m., after I finish my homework or volunteer myself to drive friends to run errands all around Los Angeles on my only day off.
Now, I have the time to read a few pages of a book before bed, cook dinner with friends or watch a movie with my roommates on the weekends. I did not belittle myself for withdrawing from a class, instead I applauded myself for making time in my schedule to improve myself, my grades and my relationships.
One of the biggest benefits of allowing my failures to lift me up rather than weigh me down is I am more encouraging to those around me. I am more able to lend them advice when they need it, and I proudly ask for their advice as well.
I am still failing. I have had days where that extra hour of sleep turns into three, and I miss a meeting. I recently failed another quiz, but this time I reached out for help — not out of shame but out of confidence in myself to do better — and got an A on the exam.
I am finding balance. I am finding peace and even celebration in my failures. Without this pattern of failure, I would not have realized how I needed to take care of myself in every way.
From now on, I am going to be proud of myself when I fail — that is the one goal I will not fail at achieving.
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