January 1, 2016

Failure is the Condiment that gives Success its Flavor.

student study books

Long nights of studying, endless cups of coffee, unpredictable temper, distorted sleep pattern and a fading thirst for knowledge. Almost every student has been through these stages of college life.

Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just incapable of dealing with stress and I’m overdramatizing the entire situation.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter. I know for a fact that most students go through stressful periods, that there’s a serious pressure to succeed, and that everyone tries to meet (sometimes impossible) expectations.

We often hear the words “hard work pays off,” but I’m not sure that this is always the case. And it’s okay to admit that. Sometimes you can put the most effort you can muster in something, you can give all of you to something, and still fail. When it happened to me the first time, I thought that I wasn’t doing enough, that I was doing something wrong, that I just had bad luck. I started blaming and hating myself for being a failure. It was a severe blow to my self-esteem. College can make you feel like a “total loser,” and the fact that I succumbed to that feeling so swiftly seemed pathetic to me.

Being so blindly driven by pursuit of success is not always a good thing.

My belief is that each and every one of us has a hidden talent; we are all brilliant at something, and sometimes what we want is not what’s destined for us. I so badly wanted to do something that just wasn’t for me and it made me miserable, because deep down I understood that I was like a fish out of water. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I spent years suppressing these feelings and suspicions, because I was so afraid to admit that I had been wrong. Now I understand that I had lost three years of my life because I was too stubborn to turn around and walk away, to find a new path, an other way.

You can’t plant a tree in the badlands and expect it to grow.

I am writing this because I know that there are students out there in the same situation right now that I was in three years ago. We chose a path that seemed exciting and unexpected, because the adventurers among us always endeavour to try out things that are new and mysterious. We want the world to know that we are not afraid of a challenge. We want to prove that we can beat all odds and conquer the universe.

I admire ambition and perseverance, but adventurers have an Achilles heel that could be their downfall: pride.

We shouldn’t be so afraid to admit that we have made the wrong choice. Who cares what others think? There’s no shame in being wrong, in failing; there’s no shame in leaving and trying out other things. On the contrary, I think it’s admirable and strong to admit that we have made mistakes. I’d eat my hat if I ever met a human being who has never made a mistake. Mistakes are good, for we learn from them.

Even though I consider the past years gone, I have learned and I have grown; I have become a better and worthier person than I was before. Please, and however ironic this is of me to say, don’t make the same mistake that I did. Don’t tear yourself down for the things you failed at. Because you didn’t fail: you became wiser. These failures are our assets, because they made us strong and cunning. They made us who we are and we should be proud.

We shouldn’t be afraid to quit, to drop out, to leave, and to start over. If something doesn’t make us happy, doesn’t add value to our lives, and doesn’t help us grow—then why should we linger?

My mom once said to me: “If you feel like you walked into a wall, look for the door. There’s always a door there somewhere. Don’t be afraid to open it and try out a different path. If there’s a smooth path that you can walk on, why climb over rocks?”

Putting ourselves through hellish times because we want to prove our worth to someone, even to ourselves, isn’t worth the hustle. I think that the era of success is slowly but surely vanishing. Instead, we should pursue value, happiness, love, peace; we should focus on the good things in this world. We should strive to make the world a better place.

And even though I’m not there yet, I’m slowly making my way toward that goal. It’s much easier to feel like you can change the world when you are strong, happy and confident. The miserable student of a few years ago was too self-absorbed in self-pity to care about others, about being in harmony with the world around her.

Failure is a form of success. We should embrace failure, use it to our advantage, learn from it and grow. I’m tired of looking at failure as a horrible thing, because it’s what makes us human and what connects us, it’s what makes us unique.

Don’t compare yourself to others, we all walk a different path, and if it took you a little longer—well, then you’ve probably been on one hell of an adventure.


Author: Katya Bohdan

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Jazmin Quaynor/Unsplash

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