“Ellen please move your pin from green to red. You will go to detention at recess today.” I cried when my 5th grade teacher told me this because I left my spelling contract in my cubby overnight and failed to get it signed by a parent.
I felt ashamed and loathed my 4th grade teacher for a couple hours because she reprimanded me to be quiet when a classmate had asked me a question in the middle of class.
I angrily drew all over and ripped my 6th grade math test that I got a B on and didn’t talk to my friends at lunch that day.
I nearly quit my first job in high school because my boss sat me aside to tell me that I need to start being a better employee by not only scooping gelato but engaging with the customers as well.
I would like to share how I changed my mindset about failing.
Remember: Everyone fails at something at some point in their lives. We are all human. Do not be ashamed. Keep on keepin on. Always keep this in mind.
I grew up learning that I always had to do everything right in order to catch up to everyone else because I was economically, socially and linguistically disadvantaged when I started school. This afforded me a vulnerable mindset as witnessed by the examples above. I was so afraid of failing, of being ridiculed and being called out.
You never know until you try.
First year of college was when I learned a great deal about failure and what to do about it. I applied for three different positions and organizations to be a part of for the following year, but I ended up being declined for all of them. I remember in one of those interviews, the interviewer prompted “tell me about a time you’ve failed”. I let a minute-long moment of silence pass, and the best answer I came up with was getting straight B’s in Gen Chem. Now, I hope for that question in every interview because I am so passionate about the topic.
I recently conjured up this quote for a study abroad scholarship essay: “Failure should never be the last stop in one’s journey, just a pit stop to re-energize and reflect.” I have learned there is value in all failures and mistakes as they can be learning experiences for future endeavors. It’s such a valuable gift to yourself.
Today, I learned from a past homecoming court member/fellow Stater that I was not selected to serve on the 2014-2015 homecoming court. She graciously made sure that I was okay and didn’t want to cry or need some alone time, and I was taken aback by such condolences. This is not how I choose to react to failures. If you take too much time dwelling about the past and sulking, you’ll miss the beautiful moments of life that are unraveling in front of your eyes. Several hours later, I am still smiling and still blessed to be a Buckeye. It’s not because I didn’t care for homecoming court or knew that I blew the interview. I thought the whole process went very well actually – going into how I knew about homecoming court even before the first day of classes as a freshman because of a role model whom I had in high school and then seeing her on court when I came to college (I still have a to-do list I made during freshman year welcome week detailing all the things I should do and get involved in for the next four years if I were to apply for homecoming court), my gratitude for this university and nearly endless opportunities given to me here as a first generation college student and how I wish to pay it forward and give back to the community and future students. I was really looking forward to being in a position to inspire future students to make the Buckeye education their own by getting involved, being open to new experiences and really cherishing every day spent here. This was a picture taken right before the interview with a good and long-time friend.
I never want to lose the overwhelming enthusiasm I felt that day. It was an absolute pleasure looking back on the three years I have had at OSU as I was preparing for the interview. I had such a great time with the interviewers, and it’ll be a memory that I will keep with me forever. I still very much look forward to coming back as an alumni with my time, support or monetary donations. I have so much love for this place that has given me so many opportunities – a life that I could not even imagine in my wildest dreams.
Reflecting, the only thing I regretted not doing was to ask the interviewers how they are affiliated with OSU. I was genuinely curious to hear a little bit about them, but wanted to be respectful for the next interviewee as we only had 20 total minutes. Other than that, I don’t really know what the main problem with my performance was… I guess the lesson here is: there will always be people better than you. But do not fret. Compete with the person you were yesterday instead of others around you. Be the best person you can be.
This experience made me more appreciative of the things I am already involved with – Ohio Staters Inc, Buckeye Leadership Fellows, a research opportunity this summer, Helping Hands Free Clinic, and getting ready to start a new chapter in life as I am preparing to apply for medical school. My goal for next year is to put in more time and effort into these activities rather than trying to look for more. Quality over quantity. These are some amazing opportunities right in front of my face, and I feel that I have been taking them for granted this whole year.
A question I prompted to myself while preparing for the homecoming interview is “what is the most important thing you’ve learned at OSU?” This is my response:
A leadership title or degree should not stand in the way of who you want to be, what you want to do or what visions you have for the world.
I used to think I NEEDED to become the president of something in order to be a good leader. This is far from the truth. Anyone, regardless of rank, position or credentials can be a leader with the right vision, mindset and attitude. Just this morning on the radio, 104.9 shared a story about how a 13-year-old girl started her own business with a facebook page saving stray dogs, paying to get them cleaned up and finding each one a home. This is such a powerful message. If you are really passionate about something, never let that fire burn out and pursue it until it becomes a reality. You cannot be afraid of failure(s).
Relating this to medicine, I made an earlier post about how you don’t need an MD degree to care more about humanity. Simply be there for people around you and listen. I am trying to live this every single day.
This was a hodge-podge of thoughts I have about failure, but I hope that something resonated with you and that you can keep a healthier mindset about failing and life.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”
(one of my all-time favorite quotes and life mantra).