In my first semester of second year, I failed an exam for the first time. I received a whopping score of 49.5%. Just 0.5% more and I would have passed. At the time, I felt that it was the most shameful and disappointing moment I had ever experienced, but now, I view this microscopic 0.5% as one of the most pivotal moments of my life.
When I first saw my mark I threw the biggest hissy fit. I was so angry and sad and everything in between.
“I am a failure,” I thought.
After giving myself 24 hours to cry and scream (internally) about this grade that I thought was life-altering and would ruin my future (here’s a quick reality check: grades lie on the spectrum of minuscule when it comes to success in life), I decided that I needed to change my studying habits and so I did.
Since that moment, my grades have improved substantially. I truly believe that if I had passed that exam, my grades would not have improved. In fact, they would probably be the same or worse.
With this awakening, I have come to realize that I have failed so many times in ways a number cannot define. I have failed at friendships, relationships, and have also failed in the sense that I wasn’t aware of these failures and the benefits and learning experiences they’ve withheld.
I have now realized that the more times I failed, the more I have grown into a better person. I have grown into a better person because I realized that I needed to initiate change in my life. Failure is the tipping point to prosperity, depending on how you internalize it.
There are two kinds of people. The ones who are fixed and the ones who seek to grow (you have probably heard these concepts in some way or another, usually they are referred to as fixed and growth mindsets). Fixed individuals tend to pursue the old saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” In essence, they view failure as an inhibitor rather than a motivator and therefore do not initiate change in their lives. On the other hand, those who have more of a growth mindset use failure as an incredible opportunity to change and grow as a person. These mindsets are changeable. You can go from fixed to growth if you choose to and trust me, you will reap life-changing benefits.
Failure is inevitable and failure is good. Failure forces us outside of our comfort zones. Failure allows us to analyze our lives and see where we are in need of self-improvement. Failure develops grit and resilience. Failure can be a catalyst to achieve a happy and fulfilling life.
Going back to my statement at the beginning of the article, I said that I once believed I was a failure. The statement was both irrational and probably the biggest lie I have ever told myself. No one can ever be a failure, not myself nor you.
Yes, we have failed but we cannot define ourselves as being a failure when we have already accomplished so much in our lives (make a list of the things you are proud of yourself for- these are all accomplishments!). You owe it to yourself to be aware that both your failures and accomplishments have facilitated so much meaning and purpose in your life. Be proud of that!
It’s hard to believe that just 0.5% has altered my outlook on life. Despite kicking myself for weeks after, I have to say, thank you, Professor, for not handing me that 0.5%. Otherwise, I would have not have had this incredible opportunity to learn and grow.