This is my inaugural blog (yippee!). I could be jinxing it by writing on failure, but I’m willing to risk it to share my recent insights with you.
You may have read in the ‘About Us’ section that I’m in graduate school and that I’m getting my Masters in Commerce. I absolutely love the program and am learning a lot, not only about business and professionalism, but also about life (I know that sounds super cliché, but bear with me).
A few of these “life” lessons came last week, when I lost a student-body election, tripped on my words during an incredibly important presentation, and got my first official job rejection. School, and life in general, had been going so well that when I suddenly began to slip, I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I hadn’t experienced failure of that magnitude in quite some time, and I felt deeply ashamed and disappointed.
I’ll admit, I cried on my sofa while eating dry cereal straight from the box when I got home after my presentation. I didn’t want to feel sad or dwell on the unfortunate events of the week, yet my overwhelming thought was “you are a failure.”
While I picked a stray Cheerio out of my hair and wiped away remaining tears, I called my mom to tell her my troubles. (Side note: that’s the awesome thing about my mom. She has experienced unimaginable grief, yet she will listen to me complain and sob about anything from school to boys, and she never makes it feel unimportant.) Anyway, it took her all of 5 seconds before saying the name “Jesus,” and suddenly a rush of calm came over me. See, the thing is, when you get so caught up in your work or school life, you sometimes lose sight of your faith. You can lose touch with God and ultimately lose the inner peace that He can provide. But she reminded me that He was with me and that He never stopped supporting me.
There is a verse in the Bible where Paul writes on the importance of “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”(Phil 3:13) Dwelling on the humiliation or regret of a failure is wasted energy. Whether it is a failed presentation in front of your peers, or any of the multitude of mistakes we can make as humans, it only defines you if you allow it to. God told us to shake the dust off our feet, and failure is no exception. This means learning from your actions, trying not to make the same mistake, and then finally freeing yourself of the shame.
So how do I fail? Proudly. I still love my graduate program and I still have my faith and my confidence. I may have faltered briefly, but I am thankful for the rejections and oh-so painful public speaking mishaps. They remind me of the power of Jesus, of the importance of learning, and also of the importance of letting go of negative emotions. These are only the beginning of the challenges I’ll face throughout my life, but each time I experience a new failure, I’ll learn how to manage it a little better. Next time I’ll cry a little less, I’ll learn a new lesson, and maybe I’ll even put milk in my cereal. I’ll keep you posted.