Why it is important to fail while you are in college right now

By Olivia Montes

Elm Staff Writer

    Failure_MarkCooleyEDITEDThis ominous dark force brewing beneath the very surface we walk upon, ready to burst at any given moment — particularly when we are at our most upbeat and most vulnerable selves.

    It is called, dare we speak its name, failure, and it happens to everyone.

   From feeling extreme waves of anger to tears of helplessness, failure is a common concept we often try to avoid in our everyday lives, whether it be doing well in a college class or navigating a new job or internship.

    Yet, through our efforts to maintain a consistent level of success, we often forget that failure allows us to look back on our mistakes to attain greater success in the future.

    However harmless this appears on paper, the feelings associated with failure can be much worse.

   “Revision feels like failure: having finished the task, who in their right mind would want to begin again?” Jennifer Finney Boylan of the New York Times said on Sept. 4.

  “This echoes the process a lot of authors go through,” she said.

    We, as human beings, shove our past failures deep into the back of our minds, constantly paranoid of making the same mistakes until we cannot even bring ourselves to try anything virtually new and terrifying.

    “Many…[view] success as a result of some kind of natural aptitude that they simply didn’t have,” Isabel Fattal said in The Atlantic.

    Though accepting failure seems easier said than done, it is important to take a deep breath and keep your emotions under control before you take on a new, unexpected project.

    Take writing, for example. Not every word will make it to the final draft. Authors rearrange ideas, rewrite characters, or completely go back to the beginning, tossing away the entire first draft in the trash and starting from scratch.

    This process can be painful, frustrating, and seem like a complete waste of both talent and time. After all, failure was not something you decided to go after early on in life.

    “Failure is just another name for much of real life: much of what we set out to accomplish ends in failure, at least in our own eyes,” Margaret Atwood, renowned author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” said to The Guardian.

     Sometimes the standards for success are set ridiculously high; the toxicity of failure is the idea that we have to succeed at any cost.

    However, failure not only grants us the ability to explore new ideas and take us out of our comfort zone, it also gives us the most important skills for any profession: patience, precision, and practice.

    “Multiple drafts are the writer’s equivalent of practice, and the mark of a good writer often is that she takes pleasure from watching the story morph from draft to draft,” said Boylan.

    According to Boylan, patience is not a set amount of time. She often waits days or months until she can see her project.

    Failure, essentially, is inevitable; failure will come, regardless of whether we anticipated its arrival. It will always catch us off-guard, makes us doubt our abilities, and rattle us to our very core.

    We can never prepare for failure, but we can learn from it.

    “Get back on the horse that threw you, as they used to say,” said Atwood.

    While failure can appear as an unexpected, unfortunate, and especially overwhelming stage, it can prove to be vital to our survival as human beings. We learn as much from failure as we would have if we succeeded. We can pick up the pieces of our past successes turned sour and effectively figure out how to move on from where we last messed up.

    “Could there be a skill more crucial in life than learning how to reinvent not just our work but ourselves?” said Boylan.

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