As a minority woman I never was keen on the idea or the possibility of failure. In fact, I do not know many women or people who are. Failing, I felt was not acceptable & this mentality was instilled in me since youth. Aside from the spiel that I must have good grades to be successful, I also picked up on non-verbal communication from watching my single mother. My mother is a Dominican Republic native who came to the US as a young child with her siblings. She spoke no English & was thrown into a new culture to survive & adapt. As a child, I was not aware of the direct struggles my mother faced but I did realize very young that our family did not look like everyone else’s. We had each other & only each other. She was mine & I was hers. She will wake up in the morning feed me, get me ready for school, walk me to an out of district school rain or shine. In between, was unbeknownst to me. She will pick me up at 3, we will walk back home, eat, work on my homework, bathe & off to bed I went. Occasionally, I will wake up in the middle of the night, across the hall her door would be cracked with a glimmer of light seeping through it I would hear “tap, tap, tap”. When I peaked in, there she was, slowly tapping away on a typewriter doing her own homework at a time the street lights on our street were the brightest.
You see, my mother was a full-time single mother, tutor, employee & student who wanted to provide for her daughter. She rarely relied on babysitters & did not rely on government aid. She accepted that what had to get done had to get done & there was no room for failure. I have never seen my mother fail at anything. I do not know if she just would not try the things she would fail at but I do know that everything she did do she succeeded in. She is now fluent in both English and Spanish & the only way you will hear an accent is if you listen closely to the way she may pronounce certain words. Her vocabulary is better than many US natives & she has acquired both her associates and bachelor’s degrees with a book bag on her back & an overweight kid on her hip; who occasionally was a guest student in her classes. When she obtained these degrees she learned how to drive, moved me out of the city & started working for the state in a very short period of time.
With her as a living example there is no wonder that I have always been unwilling to fail. Failing has always been unacceptable to me. It was not until I started college that I realized how much I abhorred failure & it was because I equated my worth to letter grades. Eventually this mindset made me too hard on myself, instead of failing not being the answer I was not accepting of Bs either. The one time I received a C, I acted as if the world ended. To me a B made me second best & a C knocked me out of the race, a race I was running against myself.
It was right before I was due to graduate undergrad that I had my first true encounter with failure. I was striving to go to law school & the LSAT score I received was unacceptable. I would not have been accepted into any law school with that score. So the LSAT was the giant in the way of my goal. For 2 years failure was my friend. We sat side by side. We became one. I would spend so much money & time preparing for this test I could not pass it was eating away at my personality & finances. The last time I took it, I failed again. I was crushed. I could not understand why I worked so hard but still could not get an acceptable LSAT score that would warrant my acceptance. I never had a back up plan, law school is what I wanted to do & it appeared I was not getting there. In a frenzy, I applied for graduate school. I am not sure if it was denial or procrastination but I did not complete or submit the application. I saved it with the intention of never finishing the process because I was going to law school. My diligence made me severely depressed.
I remember it was January 2 & there was a letter in the mail saying I was accepted into the dual graduate program pending the submission of my references. I was unsure how as my applications were not submitted. When I confirmed, I was informed there was a glitch in the system that submitted my applications prematurely but my acceptance was real & my disappointing LSAT score was good enough for them. Instantly my spirits were lifted, my confidence peaked & my-not-so-real back up plan became my new plan. I was going to graduate school. This past May, my family & friends celebrated my double masters degree in Criminal Justice & Public Administration (two majors that got me as close to the law as possible).
As you read my story, I am sure you are wondering what any of this has to do with failure. My story has everything to do with failure. Failure refocused my path. Failure & I became so close that when it defeated me I was able to emerge from my defeat in a better place than I was before. The failure molded me. It taught me that things may not always go as planned but it does not mean that if a different route has been chosen that I have given up. Graduate school afforded me the opportunity to meet some amazing people who I would not have met in law school. The director of the Criminal Justice program I graduated from is a trusted friend & advisor. She has taught me skills that I do not believe I would have obtained or would have appreciated if I went to law school. I also met one of my sister-friends (a tribe member) in graduate school. Had I went to law school I would have missed out on meeting her too. While in graduate school I was able to gain work experience that being a full-time law student would have prohibited me from doing, where I too met amazing people. Though at times, I reflect & I occasionally revisit the feelings of defeat because I am not what I wanted to be, I remind myself that in my failure I have evolved to an even better version of myself.
With that being said, stop being so hard on yourself. Sometimes failure has to be accepted in order for you to hit the reset button of what may end up being a better plan for you. Sometimes we have a one tract mind & we fail on evaluating the possibilities. Failure can help us do that. Failure can get our creative processes flowing & assist in your life process. Surprisingly, failure can contribute to making you even better than you ever could have imagined because the scars it inflicts can make you an amazing story-teller, an inspiration & relatable to someone who has a similar experience. I know my failure allowed me to be empathetic & motivating to my friends & loved ones who themselves have had difficulties accepting failure.
Failure is a natural process of life. It is what you choose to do with it that determines if you have truly failed. Life will not be without obstacles. It is how you emerge from the set back that will mold you to the person you want to be. Too often people fail & give up. Your moment of failure should be a moment of reflection. In reflecting you can determine if you should try again or if you should refocus your energies to get to your result. Once you learn to accept failure as a part of life you can start to use it to your advantage. You will not have to fear the possibility. You can embrace it & dust off its remnants when you emerge. Failure will not kill you unless you let it take from your life. Understand, failure is part of the process of evolution to assist in making you the best version of yourself. Conglomerate, after failure remember how much sweeter your successes have always ended up being. It is all apart of the process. Accept it. It is what you do with failure that makes the scars it inflicts invisible. Embrace it & move forward. You got this!
Conglomerates, it is your turn:
How has failure had an impact on your perspective? Have you given up? How did you overcome it?