Mouth agape, eyes wide, heart stopped, exam grades posted. Chagrin even outweighs the slipping, slimy drool slithering down your chin. As painful as it is to admit it, your grade, much lower than you had anticipated. How could this have happened? Were all those late, carpal-tunnel inducing nights at the library for nothing?
Recently, I have tussled with this quandary and it led to an internal discussion of failure and its place in our lives.
Growing up, the millennial generation was reminded of the path to success and achievement. I, along with many of my cohorts, were raised on the idea of the Protestant work ethic: work hard every day, and the fruits of your labor will be bountiful and beautiful.
OK, maybe that is taking it a bit too far. But to take this terrible analogy further, sometimes even if you have sown all the seeds properly, the fruit will end up rotten to the core. How do we as a society explain this?
Indoctrinated by anecdotal evidence from Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison and among other figures, we are all too familiar with the idea of failure and overcoming it. We have been given explanations for why these things happen and are convinced that with constant repetition and devotion, good things will come.
However, not everyone is the greatest basketball player in the history of the game (sorry, Lebron) or arguably one of the most influential inventors of the 20th century. Sure, we can get a false sense of comfort from these stories, but can these same situations really be applicable to our own lives?
Though it might be difficult to summarize failure in a few concise words, here’s my take on it. The next time you fail (because you will), realize your peers are failing as well in different ways. The grass is never truly greener on the other side of the lecture hall aisle (if, for some odd reason, there is grass over there).
As one of my very good friends recently told me, everything will work out the way it is meant to. Remember, failure is always an opportunity to grow and mature, no matter how old you are.
From one reluctant failure to another, take a deep breath, smile, and keep going.