Why We Need Failure (from Honors Student)

I grew up with top grades in my class and a 100% scholarship. Last week I wrote a math test. I was hit hard by an F.Covid and as the death toll rose my grades plummeted and I found myself struggling to keep my grades barely passable, mental health issues and just life in general .

Everyone talks about the productive and motivating side of the pandemic but no one tackles the other side. That’s what I would like to do. It’s not pretty, it’s not delicate, it’s ugly but it’s the truth.

Life is not pleasant and happy. He never does what you expect of him and every twist is another leap of uncertainty. Every corner contains something terrifying and you have no idea what’s inside. You have no idea what could happen and it seems overwhelming, but it also means that really, anything is possible.

If I’m being honest, I could barely bring myself to finish this one article. It was incomplete with sentences that took time to speak because the words seemed to get lost somewhere between my mind, my fingers, the keyboard and the screen. It’s not the most pleasant feeling and the truth is that life isn’t always full of pleasant feelings.

Sometimes you see things lose their meaning before your eyes, things seem to spin out of control, and you find yourself lost, watching your life unfold as if you weren’t the main character. But here’s the thing, you can always grab that steering wheel and take control. You make the rules, you can do whatever you want. You can bounce off anything.

Being on the ground is absolutely terrifying. To be beaten so hard that the floor feels comfortable is terrifying. Feeling alone, weak and helpless is horrible. The truth is that this failure hits us hard. Especially when you don’t see it coming. And you never see failure coming. It crawls on silent tiptoes and the suction cup hits you when you least expect it.

Still, I said failure is necessary and so far that doesn’t sound right, but bear with me here. Failure is not pleasant. This is exactly why we need it. Failure teaches you things that victory cannot. It’s not until the air is forced out of your lungs that you realize how much oxygen you need.

It’s only when you realize the ground is cold and uncomfortable that you do everything you can to not get knocked over. We need failure as much as success. It keeps us going and when we’re on those lows, we know we just have to buckle up for the highs that will be on their way.

These are not happy things to talk about. But these are things we need to talk about. About the days when we stay in bed all day and do nothing but eat food and feel guilty for eating as we put another cookie in our mouth, days when we look like a mess and how blemishes on your skin leave bruises on your self-esteem, how superficial it can be but some superficial things make you sad.

Social media posts don’t show that side of the world but it exists, believe me, everyone is struggling with issues, but they just don’t show it, and so we don’t show it either. But we should.

There was this blog post I read about things to do for XYZ when you’re feeling really sad. It continued with things like writing about it, cleaning your room, but asking for help or talking to another person was the last thing on the list. Damn it. We should be more encouraging not only to others, but especially to ourselves. It’s something I learned the hard way.

My grades at school were described as ‘outstanding’, ‘exceptional’ and I was somehow ‘talented’. But honestly, I felt like it was all lies. Looking at any test I wrote, I would find flaws in every answer and every score. If it was 100%, I would go and criticize my performance anyway. Every public speech I gave, I analyzed my failures, researched them, tracked them down and never lost sight of them.

I hoarded these failures and replayed them in my head over and over. Every time someone said I was fantastic at math, I only remembered one question from a test a few months ago where I stupidly multiplied.

I never believed any of the good things people said about me and if I ever tried to voice that it came across as humility or just wanting more attention. It seemed difficult to me to comprehend the fact that everything I had ever “accomplished” could amount to anything when it didn’t even seem like an accomplishment to me.

It was not pleasant. But eventually, I ended up accepting universal facts.

We’re all pretty good.

We are all capable.

We all deserve and we are all worth it.

The dark days hit hard. Feeling tired, not physically but emotionally exhausted, mentally drained and just plain stressed all the time is not pleasant to put it politely. These days leave you feeling deprived of all vitality, of all inspiration to even get out of bed. Negative thoughts infiltrate and then flood your mind until you find it hard to stay afloat in this torrent of your own thoughts.

Everywhere you look, murky waters are waiting to engulf you and drag you into the abyss of self-doubt. Why even try?

Well, because life is about trying.

Life is about fighting, bouncing back from whatever life throws at you, and blocking the punches.

It’s about standing above anything and showing life that you’re a fighter, you have courage, and you can beat anything thrown at you.

Every day may seem like a struggle, but you can conquer it all, you can eat the world for breakfast and then jump into the universe for a snack. If you believe you can, you’re halfway there.

All you have to do is give yourself a chance, believe in your abilities, and never give up. Step out of your comfort zone every day, keep striving to achieve your goals, and never forget that you are capable of anything.

Ships in a dock are beautiful, but that’s not what they’re meant for. By pushing the limits of what you knew you could do, you will quickly realize that these limits should never have existed.

You can do anything.