I really enjoy celebrating accomplishments but I also like normalizing failure. We do not always achieve what we want or it make take several tries before we accomplish a goal. If we are mentally prepared to understand that failure is a possibility, we are more likely to build strength to pick up the pieces and try again. So here are some things that I have failed at in the past, yet they did not stop me from continuing to pursue what I wanted to accomplish in the long run.
When I graduated high school, I decided to study computer systems engineering. That did not go too well! At that time (and still today), I was a social butterfly. College was a great place to hangout with my friends. Becoming an engineer was not really a priority. After the three semesters studying engineering and failing many courses, I decided that it was best to throw in the towel. I took a year off from college level courses to work and save to pay for my education. I eventually when back to college and started with an associates degree in Computer Programming which I completed with honors. I went on to successfully complete an undergraduate, master, and doctoral degree.
Another moment of failure in my life was when I applied to doctoral degrees. You see, I was determined to move back to Canada and in particular to Montreal. I had fallen in love with the educational technology program at Concordia University. After spending 5 full years studying in Emporia (Kansas), I was ready to complete my application, get accepted, and start a new chapter of my life as a doctoral student at Concordia University. That did not happened! I applied to three universities: Concordia University, Boston University, and Old Dominion University. A few days after doing my doctoral interview (a phone interview with all faculty members of the educational technology program), I received a letter from Concordia University letting me know that I was not accepted. I cried so much!
However, I was accepted to Boston University (with a graduate assistantship but no tuition reimbursement) and to Old Dominion University (with a graduate assistantship with full tuition reimbursement). Eventually, I decided to attend Old Dominion University and that let to so many wonderful opportunities that have shaped my personal life and career. I decided that although I was not at my number one choice, I was still going to earn a doctoral degree and make the most out of it!
Of course, there are many instances of failure in every day life: the article that gets rejected, the class activity that does not go as planned, the award that I do not get, etc.
Why am I sharing this? In academic circles, it gets really competitive. Heck, in life people get really competitive. We start looking at what others are doing and assuming that everyone is “doing things,” “going places,” and basically just “living the dream.” But the reality is that we are all working towards our goals and we all have moments of failures. That is just life.
2 thoughts on “Failure”
The more recent discourse about failure is misleading but I’m so inspired by your “effortful failure”! In MLK’s words: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
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