Confessions of a Failed One (and How to Deal with Failure)

I have failed. Again. At the same thing.

I still have a long way to go until I reach Thomas Edison’s personal record of 10,000 times of not succeeding, though (that always encourages me).

First, you should know that by writing this post I don’t want to earn your compassion, ask for help and support or complain about my problems. I simply don’t want anyone else to feel like I did this day, and many other days as well.

I want you to understand failure, see its real purpose, learn from it and even benefit from it. Being prepared for the consequences will help you avoid disappointment and other unpleasant emotions that go with it.

I’m talking about my exam. It may sound like a shallow thing to some of you and not at all important, but keep in mind that no matter what it refers to, the feeling of being failed is the same.

Overwhelming, burning…

Here is a little overview of the situation:

I study Marketing. And before I have the chance to get familiar with Marketing Research, Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior and other interesting to me topics that are important to my subject and I will actually use in real life someday, I need to deal with other things like Statistics and Financial Accountancy.

They are general studies I need to know as Marketing is an economical subject.

The problem I had was with Financial Accountancy – a not so pleasant thing to learn. I realize that it is one of the most important economic activities, no enterprise would make any proper business without it and that nowadays economy would be unthinkable without it, but it all comes down to how interesting a subject is and whether you find any motivation to sit down and learn a whole textbook of theory and be able to solve all kinds of problems.

I did well on other exams – Micro- and Macroeconomics, Higher Mathematics and others – by putting up with an unpleasant subject, trying to get its essence, devoting many hours of studying, giving up my free time and other things I love. This is how I proceeded to prepare for the exam in Financial Accountancy as well.

I didn’t pass it.

Then for the second chance I had to do it (This is how our educational system works, but don’t take this as a reason to consider it weak. Quite the contrary, it is difficult.) I prepared even better. I devoted even more time and energy, stayed focused only on that, tried to find many sources of motivation to keep me going, took a few private lessons, prepared mentally (that was actually the hardest thing of all – I had to remind myself constantly that it’s all worth it, to try to think positively and delete the picture in my head of not passing the exam). I didn’t listen to all the negative people around me and did my best.

And yet, I failed.

The morning before the exam I was enthusiastic and looking forward to it as I felt confident in my knowledge and understanding of the subject. Throughout the exam I did well.

While I was waiting to hear the results, I was happy and awaiting the great relief I would feel after I hear my mark.

And yet, I failed.

Many factors may have led to that. But here I am – having disappointed my parents again by not passing the exam for a second time. It makes me feel bad. I feel like crying. But what I do?

By Jane Rahman @Flickr

A few ideas stepped into my mind right away – to give up on my education because it’s just not for me; to just go to my room, cry my eyes out, be alone and stay there for days; to act like a victim in front of my relatives and friends and blame the professor, university, educational system, etc.

Maybe some other time.

Here I am on the way back to my home town (I just traveled to the city I study in for the exam.), writing on the bus.

Writing about failure, confessing my feelings and wishing to help others not to feel like that, and to be prepared if they do.

People are actually staring at me now. They wonder what I’m doing, being so concentrated. It’s not a very comfortable place to write either ( as I’m using a pen and a sheet). But that doesn’t bother me. I need to do it now – while the feeling is fresh.

And, to be honest, I’m helping myself even more. It’s healing. It takes a heavy weight off my shoulders.

I just did a few very important things – accepted my failure, understood it, analyzed it, learnt from it, found its benefits – and I want you to be able to do them too.

They are a result of a lot of mental work, affirmations, a change of the perspective.

Here are a few key things to know (they may refer to everything and everyone):

  • This has happened for a reason – I need to draw a lesson from it.
  • Things don’t always go according to plan but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect them to turn out for the best next time you give it a try.
  • It makes you stronger, wiser, more experienced.
  • It means you have done something , you have tried. And it goes without saying that you did more that many others, who can’t find the power and motivation to take action.
  • You are a step closer to succeeding now.
  • This is a great chance to try to understand failure, accept it and move on.  This is a big challenge!
  • Be grateful – it may sound weird to some of you but appreciation plays a huge role even when it comes down to failure. The moment I failed, I took a deep breath and thanked for it (it’s hard to do it and resist the urge to start complaining, feeling bad about yourself, losing hope for future achievements, etc.). And only this little thing made me feel better.

I fail at other things too – getting up early, eating healthy, working out regularly, being kind to the people around me and not getting angry with them…

But I accept it. Let it go. And move on.

What things do you fail at? How do you feel after that?

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