It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal.
It lies in having no goal to reach.
It is not a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is
a disgrace not to have any stars to reach.
Not failure, but low aim, is the real sin.
–Benjamin Mays via Pablo Eisenberg
What another great way to view our failures in life. One should rather have failed a million times over- in attempts to reach a goal or a dream, than to never have had a goal in mind. Failure is proof that one has gotten up and tried. Repeated failure is proof that of how strong an individual can be and how motivated and driven they are.
My best lesson in failure brings me back to my first years of College and that pesky ole College Algebra they find it necessary to make you take. I have always done relatively well in school with mostly A’s and B’s….until it came to Algebra- my arch nemesis (and still is to this day). First they made me take Math 97 – a class to prep you for Math 99- the precursor for College Algebra. I struggled through Math 97 and made a D. By struggled- I mean endured endless hours of study and practice and showing up on Saturdays for help and review of the week’s lesson.
Math 99 was the same. About five or six extra books on the subject from Barnes and Noble- Algebra for Dummies, etc. I went online to high school and middle school math sites for better comprehension and easier examples (as my comprehension was MIA). I did practice questions online, from the book, you name it. Attended every class and review session. I passed the class with a B- but failed the required separate exit exam. I was required to repeat the course the next semester.
Math 99 round two. Same thing as round one. Practice, tutors (4 different ones- two on campus and two non campus -one who was a high school Algebra Teacher and one from GA Tech) to help me wrap my mind around the subject. NADA. I could recite the formulas- but when applied to an equation- the answer was wrong nine out of ten times. Writing this is currently giving me flashbacks of me crying on the floor four hours on end. There seemed to be no solution to my problem. With endless practice and positive affirmations each day- I passed with a D. Then onto the next.
College Algebra- here we go again. Same thing. Struggle after struggle. I showed up each day, sat at the front of the class, asked questions, stayed late and attended tutorial sessions. To pass this class you had to have a D. I was one point below passing- with my F in hand I felt miserable. To my surprise- my professor gave me that extra point that let me pass. He saw how frustrated I had been, yet completely dedicated.
I had tried to reach that goal and it was NOT easy by any means. I just did not understand the point, and didn’t for many years. But nowadays I see that point had nothing to do with me learning Algebra. It was me setting the goal to pass those classes no matter what and no matter how hard it was. I was facing academic probation- and in that - losing my identity as a good student. This went on for an entire year and a half. Finally when it was all said and done- I am glad I hung in there. I wouldn’t want to repeat it- but I would if I had to. Passing those classes allowed me to move forward and cultivate myself in wonderfully interesting subjects. I am quite proud for hanging in there. And even though I feel that I have technically been taught more on the subject than most- I still probably couldn’t solve an equation if millions of dollars were on the line.
Failure was a gift for me. It proved how strong I was in the midst of constant defeat for that year and a half straight. So I look back on those failures and smile (with one eye twitching of course)! I had a goal and I did not quit. Much more respectable than no goals at all! So love your failures- there are lessons in them if you look hard enough. SO here’s to failure- because it’s not all a bad thing!