Defined by Failure

Kalpana - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on October 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

As Robert Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.” Some people, however, do not dare to fail greatly because, well, it’s failure. How many people would risk everything they have achieved just to be considered “great” by strangers? Martin Luther King Jr. did when he led the black Americans to equality. Abraham Lincoln did when he led America to abolish slavery. Siddhartha Guatama gave up everything he had to search for enlightenment and become the “Buddha”. These “great” people have made sacrifices that led made them unforgettable figures in history. As a result, on their way to their achievements they faced temporary failures. These people and all people are often defined by their achievements in life, but I believe that, instead, people should be defined by their failures because success is only achieved by failing first.

People often believe that once great misfortune hits, they would be able to quickly recover from it. But how would they know how well they could handle it? Having the courage to continue after such a loss takes much more than just saying, “I think I’m going to have courage today.” It’s more like getting struck on the head with a baseball bat. Everyone would fall to the ground in agonizing pain, but not everyone would handle it the same. Some would rise after the pain had worn off and run to receive help. Others would stay sobbing on the cold ground until the injury eventually takes their life. Of course, the second one would be the insane road to travel, but people do take it. It is one of the purest forms of giving up and some person takes that road every single day. But why should people give up? As my dad said, “Everything that’s up must come down. But everything that’s down must come up.” Life’s a zooming roller coaster, climbing slowly up, falling sharply down, flying around turns, and sometimes turning upside down. It is the exciting amusement park ride that people try to take a second time.

Most people view failure as another way life has taken a turn for the worst. I see failure as a warning sign, indicating which roads have already led to disappointment. They block the roads I should never have taken and refuse to let me take them again. One time, when I was six, I wanted desperately to run away from home. I stormed out the door and ran down the street. It was cold, and I forgot a jacket; I was hungry, and I forgot food; it was lonely, and I forgot my love for company. In the end, I only made it to the end of the street before I turned back. I walked through the door hoping my parents were worried, but all they said was, “I thought you were getting the mail.” I discovered two things that day- running away is a stupid thing to do and if it doesn’t work, bring back the mail. Lesson learned. Lesson, after lesson, after lesson. I wonder if one day there will be no more lessons to learn.

Lessons are some of the most helpful and annoying things life dishes out. They can only be achieved by failure and, therefore, failure is inevitable. Every day, people make mistakes and cause trouble, so every day, they learn something new. They learn not to leave the control in the sofa cushions, not to put metal in the microwave, and not to leave their assignments on the table. They fail, they learn, they achieve. Without failure, there would never have been any lessons or any achievements and we would be living like cavemen. Thank goodness for failure!