Failure – Friend or Foe?

Fariba - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: setbacks

Failure has been disrespected far too long. In my experience, some of my more insightful and lasting lessons have grown out of failures. For instance, when I failed my first chemistry test in college I was shocked, confused, and ashamed. However, I didn’t let that one grade discourage me from improving. I studied arduously for each subsequent exam and finally pulled my average up to an A minus. I learned and grew from that experience.

As terrible as it may seem, even the failure of others can be insightful. Once I heard my father say that he felt he had failed my older sister. During this period of her life, friends and fun were among her highest priorities. He was helping her prepare for her future and felt that she was letting every given opportunity pass without hesitation. He saw this passiveness as her failing in life. Being a parent who loves his child, he projected this failure onto himself. The last thing anyone wants is to see disappointment on a parent’s face. She immediately rethought her life and her priorities for the better. Thus, the failure in one inflicted failure in another to result in growth and change for both.

I haven’t always been fortunate enough to think so optimistically of failure.

Initially, failure brought about a strong visual image of a finale, an ending. It brought about disappointment in myself, whether it was projected from me, my parents, or society. It was the end of the world when I was tagged to be “it” on the playground, when I didn’t win my middle school talent show with my poetry reading, and when I was waitlisted for my first-choice university. Since then, my beliefs have changed. My mother has played a key role in this transformation. She always tells me that everything happens for a reason. It may sound cliché, but it is so true. Failure in one aspect of life is meant to happen so that we learn from that experience, move on, and evolve. But first, we must not only be willing to confront and accept any and all failures that cross our paths, but we must also embrace them. I have come to learn from, understand, and grow from failure.

For me, failure is exactly what you perceive it as. I believe that if anyone were to make his/her way through life without experiencing any real failures, he/she is, in essence, a true failure. I also believe that to in order to face failure, it is necessary to take risks. In my life, I try to avoid staying safely in the harbor of mediocrity. I believe that in many occasions, people fail to take action, because they are afraid to fail. I constantly strive for excellence and have no problem admitting that I have failed at some things many more times than I’ve succeeded. Why? Because I view failure as a very important part of the learning process and progression to excellence. Once I adjusted and reframed my perception of failing, I was finally able to accept failure and not fear it.

I believe that this ultimate success can only be achieved through totally acknowledging, understanding, and embracing the power of failure. After all, “Success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed,” says Emily Dickinson. So attention everyone, for failure is indeed our friend.