Finals week is to professors, as the full moon is to the Emergency Room staff. If you’ve ever worked in a hospital, you know exactly what I’m talk about… if not, I bet you can imagine.
After posting grades, we inevitably get millions and billions of emails [okay probably really not that many] about things like, “What can I do to improve my grade?” [where were these emails in week 2?] or “I deserve such and such grade, so give it to me” [wait…that’s how that works?]. Of course we get tons of beautiful emails too, like “This class was really hard and I couldn’t have done it without you!” and “You went beyond what a professor does. Thank you!” but it’s these other emails that I spent a lot of my day today thinking about.
In our culture, we fear what we perceive as failure. We worry more about the grade than the actual learning, because the grade seems to be what people see as our success. We spend so much time worrying about this pseudo-success, that we forget about taking those real risks that come with exponential rewards. I’m not saying that America is a perfect meritocracy, I’m saying it’s okay to push your upper limits even if you don’t succeed. It’s okay that you tried super freaking hard and still didn’t get what you wanted. It’s okay to fail, not only is it okay to fail…
Failure is really success. This is why.
1. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough. It’s super easy to set safe goals, that are more of a to do list than a list of goals. If you are always succeeding, it’s because you’re not even trying to live up to your own potential. And maybe for some parts of our lives, it is okay just to get by… but if that becomes your whole life, what were the purposes of your beautiful talents in the first place?
2. You learn even when you fail. I think one of the most important experiences in my life were through the Miss Missouri Organization. By the haters on Voy Forums [imagine anonymous, mean girls with free reign of an internet forum], I was never a success. And you know what, they were right. I never actually won a pageant a day in my life. I remember very vividly, one night, a group of girls and I read the forum before we competed that night. The anonymous person essentially dubbed a group of us as pathetic pageant losers who would never win. They listed their top three. Naturally, none of us were on that list. That night, I won runner up to a very talented woman who would later become Miss Missouri [she also wasn’t on the list of “winners’]. I’m not going to lie, I jumped up and down like a banshee after winning runner-up. I don’t even want to know what the audience thought about my excitement for what many people would dub the first loser, and I really don’t care. People never realized that my journey in that wonderful system was more about my own development than other people’s approval. From the system, I got money for graduate school and learned how to interview like nobody’s business. I attribute the skills I learned with this system with almost every other success I’ve had, including getting into a Ph.D. program, an APA-Accredited internship, and my first job right out of graduate school as a professor. I don’t see how those loses were ever a failure, especially now that I am an interviewing rock star!
3. It’s okay not to be perfect. If you’re busy living up to someone else’s expectations for your life, you’re going to do all of the things that make you look good on paper, rather than the experiences that you crave. That you want. That you need. And one day you will resent it.
Other people’s definition of perfect most likely won’t match your own, so why would you want to live up to their standard? In trying to be perfect, we lose the whole point. We waste so much time trying to keep up these perfect appearances, that sometimes we lose sight of what means the most to us. At this point in my life I much rather experience failure, than sell out and do what other people want me to do.
Ultimately, failure says nothing about you as a person. How you handle failure does. Thicken your skin, embrace failure, dust your shoulder off, and keep walking forward.
I’m ready to chase my dreams, even if it means going down in glorious flames. Are you?
Comment below with the dreams you are ready to chase, even if that means you might fail. While you’re at it, feel free to subscribe to the blog or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LearnWithKJ.