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High School

I Didn’t Have a GPA in High School: My Relationship with “Failure”

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

Hi, It’s Kailee again! If you’re new here, welcome to my series where I recap my high school journey. I didn’t receive a GPA for all four years and I learned so much about who I am as a person, professional and design thinker!

Last time, I talked about my mental health surrounding my lack of getting a grade and the impacts of this (visit hercampus.com!!!!). This time, I will share my experiences with the concept of failure. What is failure and how can you combat that feeling, and turn that into something positive. 

Failure and/or the idea of failure is subjective. “I’m a failure” and “I’ll never get better” are things I used to tell myself everytime I didn’t understand something right away or one of my projects didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. As a society, we are conditioned to believe that the smallest mistake will determine the entire rest of our lives and that everything has to go to plan. It took me a few years to realize that’s just not the case. We were made to be imperfect. No one has done things 100% by the book to get what they have now and everyone succeeds and learns from their mistakes in their own way, and their own time. 

The word “failure” to me is a learning experience. It is all a part of the process for learning how to adjust. You could be designing a product, like a coffee mug, but there could be a crack in the mug that keeps it from holding your coffee. There will always be a way to patch up that mug, with clay, or finding another way to make the mug, to make it usable again. Just like the crack in your mug, “failure” can be used as an opportunity to make adjustments to your design or life! There will always be room for improvement. 

I decided to interview my friend Sabina Gaudiano from Gibson Ek Class of ‘21, on the topic of “failure” and what she learned. Sabina says, “failure isn’t absolute, but you have to take the initiative to make it a learning experience and grow from it.” Taking failure and making it positive is hard. It takes a specific mindset and you need to make the switch flip. She adds, “we were taught [at Gibson Ek] to value prototyping, trying again and again and again until we have a product we were satisfied with. This practice helped me to readjust my perception of “failure”, I no longer saw it as something to be ashamed of, I saw it as a chance to create something more amazing than before,”. Failure was something created to compare ourselves to others and meet expectations. 

Once I was able to move past the stresses and expectations I put on myself, I am now able to look at the bigger picture. We were made to be imperfect and make mistakes. Pro-tip: Try not to beat yourself up about things that don’t go to plan. Keep trying new things and experiment! Your life is meant to be explored.

Make today great! 


Hi! I'm Kailee Rapkin and I attend TCU! I am from Seattle, WA, and am an Interior Design Major. My favorite color is green and I have a dog back home named Eve. :)
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