The middle of the semester looms near and for those of us graduating in May approaching the end of our time as undergraduates, the future is on the horizon. This time of year gets people thinking about entering the “real world.”
Those of us moving on to different careers or more schooling face the unknown, which can include failures and successes. Most of us hope for success and want to avoid the much-feared failure.
Through all our years of school, we were taught failing is a bad thing we need to avoid because of what its negative connotations. When we get answers wrong on a test or do not fully grasp a concept, points are taken away and we are made to feel bad about it.
It seems that in the “real world,” we fear bigger consequences. This fear can keep us where we feel comfortable. We fear to step outside of our comfort zone, so we sacrifice trying new things in order to avoid failure.
Society enables this fear of failure by implying a negative connotation of the word fail. We feel the burden of failure more than the positive feeling of success and the failures often stick out more than the successes.
Avoiding failure can also mean avoiding success. Without trying new things and stepping out of our comfort zone, we may never feel the impact of true success. We often don’t recognize that success often stems from failure and that success is sweeter when one works hard and struggles to achieve it.
I, like many, have failed countless times. One instance was when I didn’t get a job that I applied for in my sophomore year. I was disappointed and felt like I had failed but I also learned from it. When the same position opened up the following year, I made sure I was better prepared and that time around I got the job.
That experience taught me how I could learn from my failures and how giving up and giving in to disappointment would have made me a true failure.
Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison’s conception of what it means to be successful seems pretty accurate. In the world of sports, an athlete may fail at scoring a goal countless times, but the times in which they succeed are the ones that count.
As human beings, messing up will always be inevitable. At times it can devastate us, but it is truly about how one shows resiliency in the face of defeat. True success is not being defined by our mistakes, but by persevering in the face of them.
We are taught as students to internalize our shortcomings and seek out ways to overcome them. We study with the understanding that if we don’t, bad things will happen. When we don’t understand something, we have it in our mind that we will fail.
We view failure as a negative end and not as a reason to try harder next time. Society puts this fear in us as well. We often don’t hear about the failure that comes before success, but that is a better representation of how things really work. We should not be defined just by our successes, but how we overcome failure to succeed.