When I was in high school, I was assigned an essay for a philosophy class. As a straight A student, I was devastated when I got a D on the essay.
My world seemed to collapse, as I realized with embarrassment that I was secretly struggling while my classmates seemed to be doing fine. The fear of failure and embarrassment became so serious that I even considered changing high schools for a less demanding program.
I vividly remember one particular day in which my emotions towards failure got the best of me and a schoolmate found me crying in the hallway. After listening, the classmate asked a simple question: “Is this the first time you feel challenged by an academic task?”
His words hit me hard. I took a deep breath and did a mental scan of previous tasks and homework. I quickly realized that until the philosophy class, I had not struggled academically. Learning was something that came effortlessly, with little hard work needed for positive results. Similar to a natural athlete being able to quickly pick up a new sport, school had always been easy for me.
As I shared this with my classmate, his face lit up and he simply assured me that I would be fine. It was only years later, as a mother, that I was able to look back and realize that his sudden spur of optimism was simply a positive recognition of the important part that failure plays in our lives.
He knew and trusted that once I put myself out there, I would learn how to move forward. He knew that failure was an essential part of success.
So for those who perhaps thought the title of this article was a mistake… it is not! [Read more…]