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PERSONAL ANECDOTE: Failure.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

It’s currently 10:47 pm on a Monday night, no Monday night in particular. The Mondays blend together and the Tuesdays and Wednesdays and so on follow. But I’m so tired of this. Tired of the monotony of my junior year that started so wonderfully. 

It’s not that things are bad, in fact, if someone were to make a chart comparing me right now to me a year ago, they’d wonder why I’ve been so upset lately. But I understand why I’m upset. Of course, I understand the restrictions I’ve placed on myself. They’re mine! They may have a rhyme and a reason to me, but out loud it seems they don’t make sense. 

Have you ever really wanted to be great at something? Doesn’t matter what it is. I’m sure you have, everyone has. I want to be great at something, but that something so happens to be everything.

I want to write hard-hitting articles for an audience that understands what I am saying and loves every second of understanding it.

I want to paint in a room of sunlight and be my own favorite painter. 

I want to sing in an echo-y hall and have someone come to my front door and “discover” me. I have since I was a kid. 

I want to be able to consume political and philosophical theory as I do now, but actually be able to regurgitate all of it correctly, instead of living with it in my head. 

I want to be the top of my class and in a top law school, and feel like I deserved it, rather than feeling like somehow I made it there. 

I want to be told I am brilliant and deserve it and believe it. 

I want to get straight A’s and hold leadership positions in every organization I am in.

I want to be able to sit in a room and not think. 

I want to be okay with stability and calmness. 

Funny how the last two contradict the rest. 

Lately, I’m finding out that I have high aspirations that have too high a price. You want to know why I’m so upset in a seemingly perfect life lately? Why I’m so upset? I am realizing that I cannot live in the hopeless haze of thinking I can do the impossible. Because that is what that is. 

Everyone deals with failure.

 I know this, you know this, your parents and friends tell you this and we know it all the same. But we never expect to be the ones dealing with it, even when we’re in the midst of complete failure. This is something we all need to come to terms with, that I need to come to terms with. 

It’s hard looking at yourself in the mirror after you’ve failed. Maybe it’s hard to even admit you’ve done your best because if you really did your best you wouldn’t have failed. This is my thought process at least. But failure is an interesting thing. You’re bound to fail even when you did your best.

I’m sorry if no one has told you this before, that I have to be the one to break it to you: you are bound to fail.

But, you are also bound to succeed. 

The problem with failure, at least in my particular situation, is that I give myself so many things to succeed at that everything seems to crumble. You cannot give one hundred percent to anything if you try to give one hundred percent to everything. It is impossible! And you might be thinking, it’s impossible for her, or for others, but not for me. And I would tell you, me too. But, there is freedom in accepting that you cannot do it all. You now have time to devote yourself to things you really, truly care about, rather than everything. We both know you do not care about everything you’re holding in excess right now. Let go. There is no shame in admitting you can’t do it all. This is the key to success. 

Sometimes, we take on challenges that are not really our own, and it surrenders the fight we should be fighting. If you want to be the best at everything, it means being good at things that aren’t yours. Why would you want to be good at things you don’t own? I have a habit of this. I must be the brightest person in every room, but rooms are crowded. Do you see how much this is to take on? Do you see that you could be the brightest person in your own room? I may be writing to myself, but I hardly doubt I am alone. 

I tried to be good at too many things, instead of just being great at the things I know are within my capabilities. This is not to say to stop trying and relegate yourself to your comfort zone—this is not that kind of advice. That kind of advice is failure in its own regard. What I am telling you is this: give your all to the things you reasonably have the ability to do.

You need to look at failure in its dead eyes and say “I am not afraid of you.” Failure is not necessarily a bad thing in the absolute sense. When you hit rock bottom, you get to look around at everyone standing with you, create your own room while they create theirs, and see that rock bottom is covered in so many rooms that it might as well be an apartment complex. 

You’ll meet rock bottom over and over again so much that your rock bottom right now will be the higher level you fell from at a later point in your life. You’ll find yourself bargaining, telling whatever you believe in that you’d sooner take your previous battles than this new one. You’ll hear silence, you’ll have no choice but to keep going in your mess, and then eventually you’ll be fine. 

That’s the thing: you’ll always be fine. 

Failure hurts, but it rarely kills. You’ll survive this one, and the next, and you’ll be fine. It’s scary, and devastating, and ego-crushing, and just awful. But you’ll get through it just like you’ve gotten through every other rock bottom you’ve hit before. In 20 short years, rock bottom and I have begun to decorate in anticipation of our next meeting. I send decorations down the well so I can rebuild when I get there again. I send ladders down so that after I am done building, I can climb back up. 

That’s what we have to do. We must climb the ladder. We must learn to move on.

Madi is a Junior undergrad majoring in Political Science and minoring in International Security and Conflict Resolution at San Diego State University, where she served as the Vice President of New Member Education of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. She eventually wants to become a criminal defense attorney and work for the Innocence Project. Among the things that hold a special place in her heart like her perfectly curated Spotify playlists, day-long painting projects, and her dog, Steve, she admits that the Oxford comma holds the title for MVP (most valuable punctuation, that is).
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