If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Connor - USA
Entered on March 10, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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If at First You Don’t Succeed…

One is equally responsible for their success as they are for their failure– a lesson I learned quite harshly last summer while I was searching for a job. On one steamy afternoon, my dad and sister announced that they were leaving for White Mountain Creamery, an ice cream shop in the center of town. I had recently been considering applying for a job, so I asked my dad if he would speak with the manager there. My shy request returned bad news, when my dad explained, “They said that they don’t hire boys under sixteen”. Since I was fifteen, I turned to the local grocery stores, where I filled out two resumes by myself, and I was soon hired at Roche Brothers as a grocery bagger. This was a bittersweet success which I attributed to my mature approach: I spoke to managers, asked questions, and shook hands, instead of appealing to my dad for assistance. I was surprised to learn that two friends, who were younger than me, were hired at White Mountain Creamery that summer. At first, I wanted to blame my dad for not being of more help to me, but it was obvious that my timid approach was the actual source of my failure. I will never know whether I could have gotten the job scooping ice cream instead, but every time the words “Paper or plastic?” escape my mouth, I am haunted by the thought that I could instead be asking, “In a cup or a cone?”.

During my struggle to stay afloat in eighth grade algebra’s sea of numbers, I failed at least two consecutive tests. My father, with a master’s degree in math, was disappointed. My teacher was disappointed. I was disappointed. But somewhere in between that disappointment and the struggle that followed to earn back some of the lost points, I concluded that the horrendous test scores had been my teacher’s fault. I did everything I could to distance the blame from myself, and I told my disappointed family that I only failed because the tests were too hard. The opportunity for improvement was in my hands, and as I worked to raise my “F” to a “B+”, I realized that I had been equally responsible for my failure as I would be for rescuing my algebra grade. Whether or not my teacher’s tests were too difficult was beside the point, along with the nasty things I had said about him. This failure was mine.

As human beings, we take part in individual journeys with a shared destination: success. We struggle in these endeavors, because we are impaired by our lack of experience. Our visions of how to accomplish them are distorted by our perspective. My experiences have allowed me to construct my own understanding of the nature of failure and success: Those who lean on others, and who do not pursue success with the appropriate aggression, travel towards their goals blindly and they are quickly overtaken by failure.