Failure is a hard pill to swallow. Failing means letting someone down. It means accepting that somewhere along the line you’ve made the wrong choice. And it means that you have to try again.
I am no stranger to failure, as is anyone else, but my memories of failing when I was younger have held an incredibly large responsibility for shaping who I am as a person today. One such memory was the catalyst that changed my views on failure and what it represents to me.
Some time ago, I was a middle schooler in 7th grade. I wasn’t particularly social, I didn’t join any sports clubs, and I would only ever do the bare minimum of what was expected of me to scrape by. This isn’t to say I was a bad kid by any means, but I lacked any goals, and I was only moving forward because that was what I was supposed to do.
And so, one day in the middle of my Honors English class, I was made to reap the seed unbeknownst to me I had already sown. By order of Florida legislation, my teacher’s class was deemed overpopulated by one student and would see the least exceptional student pruned away to another underpopulated class. And lo and behold, the lowest grade belonged to yours truly.
At the time I felt devastated. “Why do I have to get kicked out? What does one extra student matter?” I wanted to scream out and rebel against the rule that would rip me away from what was familiar to me with no hesitation or nuance… But in the end, I just cried silently to myself. There was nothing to be done and more than anything, I didn’t want anyone else in the class to go through what I felt.
When my last day in that class came, I remember the class having cupcakes and getting a few goodbyes from my peers and teacher. It’s silly to think of now, but at the time it moved me to get that much attention. Before I left, my teacher told me that she wanted to write something about the situation she had witnessed, asking me if that would be alright. I agreed, honored that my situation could serve as someone else’s inspiration and with that thought in mind, I took my last step out of that classroom.
Later that year I ran into my former teacher who had something to give me. She gave me a slip of paper taken from a newspaper and told me she wrote it for me. Reading the clip made me sad, but I felt a happiness that I had never felt before as well.
I thanked my teacher for her thoughtful words and promised myself to remember the thoughtfulness my friends and peers showed me while I was dealing with this disturbance in my daily life.
Since then, I may have faced far harder hardships, and failed time after time again and again, but I have since carried these failures in a different light in my mind. I may have failed, but each and every failure served to remind me that I can always improve. And more than that, I was reminded that there are people who care about me who also want to see me succeed. And so, from that day in middle school onwards, I would move forward with a goal to excel in whatever I did. Even if it meant failing to reach that expectation, I would not quit marching on towards that goal.