Failure, My Teacher

I was the foreign kid, an Australian in an American high school. I wiped my wet palms on my jeans as I waited for the teacher…

Failure, My Teacher | thefreewoman.comI was the foreign kid, an Australian in an American high school. I wiped my wet palms on my jeans as I waited for the teacher to return the marks of my first paper for American Literature. When I received it, my heart sank. The paper was littered with red markings and the grade was not what I was used to back home.

The bell rang and I asked my teacher if I could discuss my paper with her. She took my hand and said “Jess, this paper is good. You write well. If I gave you a better mark, there would be no room for improvement. I do this so I can push you to be better.” My desperate need for success overshadowed the importance and the positive effects of my failure.

I have failed before. I’m sure many of you are the same. The hurt and shame associated with failure is personal. This association is the result of the common belief that when one fails, one is a failure. That is not the truth. I repeat, when you fail, you are not a failure. Instead, when you treat your failure as a lesson, it breathes a new perspective for you. It pushes you to ask important questions like, “what can I learn from this?” Failure is a better teacher than success.

A teacher once wrote on his board on the first day of school, “Failure is not an option; it is a requirement.” Incredulous students asked him why he wanted his students to fail. He explained the desire for his students to encounter learning obstacles so they could develop crucial problem-solving skills, and a character of adversity. Real-world problems are complex. They do not come with the answers in the back of a textbook. Therefore, your productive struggle gives you the skills to work through adversity. This skill involves and develops your creativity and maturity. Above all, it teaches you humility.

Ladies, when one close to you ‘fails’ or feels like a failure, take this opportunity to be an encourager and supporter. Observe failure as a teacher to become the resilient and persistent woman you are. Remember, failure is nothing more than a temporary defeat.

– image credit: Art & Anthem

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