Western culture teaches us to view failures as negative events, even as strikes against the quality of our character. Within the American Dream there lies an expectation that with hard work and determination, we will be successful. We idolize successes to an extreme, placing actors, musicians, scientists, engineers and artists who master their chosen craft on pedestals. If only looking to the media, these professionals appear to achieve overnight success with little effort. What is not seen, however, is the failures and rejections that they endure repeatedly, that every human with a passion endures repeatedly. Our society ultimately values end product over process, and brushes aside struggle when success occurs.
The process of working towards a goal, however, is the most beautiful piece of the puzzle. Why see failures as roadblocks when we could simply turn around and see the wide open door behind us? A key part of achieving big goals is maintaining perspective, and accepting that your initial plans will never be the plans that come to fruition. It is imperative to embrace change, and minimize catastrophic thinking. We can all live out our dreams, if we only retain the ability to adapt to unexpected situations.
Personally, my failures have shaped me, and I imagine will continue to shape me, in ways beyond what I could imagine. While incredibly infuriating, disappointing, and terrifying each time, with each setback I truly have discovered something new within myself and found alternative pathways to pursue. My failures, whether forced upon me by circumstance or due to personal error, have honestly been some of my greatest achievements. With each failure I believe that I have inched slightly closer to my true self, as they push aside my superficial ideas and reveal my true talents, motivations, and even desires.
Don’t get me wrong, as a self identified perfectionist failure angers me beyond belief. I have, however, learned to shed my tears and pick myself back up. I have learned that life goes on, and that I have the ability to, in a way, rephrase situations. I am beginning to gain the ability to recognize the opportunities presented which lie within rejection, instead of the opportunities lost. I have gained happiness beyond anything that I could have planned for from my failures.
When all of my friends left for university and I was left behind to tend to my health alone, I was admittedly angry and sad beyond belief, but it was also exactly what I needed at the time. I was able to try to improve my medical stability, and explore my passions and goals some. At the end of the year I chose what I believed to be the best place for myself to study, but was to be proven wrong in my planning once again.
When I realized that university was failing for me as an experience, I made the decision to return back to my hometown. I had a two week period before I could be picked up, and so I began playing my guitar more than I ever had in the six years previous. From failing at school, I realized that I could potentially have success in music or other artistic pursuits. I found a new passion, and more happiness than I knew I could have. My failures built me into my current self, and I could not be more grateful. We all could stand to embrace, or even learn to love failure a little more; after all it is the foundation upon which we build our success.