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development failure improvement self-awareness success

Why everyone needs to get a ‘B’ at least once

From a straight-A student

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

For as long as I can remember, tests and assessments have been very important to me. When I was younger, I loved the feeling of satisfaction and pride of a good piece of work, but now at 16, it’s become a lot more than that. Grades have become a necessity to go to a prestigious college or university, places a 10-year-old me always dreamed about going to. My long-term goal of studying law at the best possible university has been my driving force to do well in school and try my best in every test. In fact, I’ve only ever gotten a B twice in my life! They made me very upset, but nevertheless I’ve taken away some important messages and here are the reasons why I will go as far as to say that failing a test, losing an important match or getting rejected from a job is vital to human development.

#1 It reminds you that there are more important things in life
This is one of the most personal effects for me. I’m really embarrassed about sharing this experience and how I reacted, which seems so childish, but oh well. I’d just got back all my mock exam results and I’d got A*s for 9 subjects and an A in my last subject. I was so, so crushed and I felt defeated and worried that I wouldn’t get the scholarship I had applied for at a really good school that was also really expensive, because I hadn’t been the best in every subject. Writing this makes me feel quite sad, actually, that I was so distraught over an A which other people would have been thrilled about! I got a lot from this experience by considering what was the worst that would happen if I didn’t get the scholarship- well then I’d just go to a different school. A place does not define your success, after all, and college-dropouts like Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates are living proof of that. It’s so important to fail or be disappointed once in a while to have a wider view of life and understand that this small thing or experience really doesn’t matter in the long run. It’s hard to accept, especially at first, but it really has become a lot easier for me to accept a disappointing result with the mindset of thinking about the very worst thing that could happen and if that thing would really impact my life later on.

#2 It humbles you

Failing or not doing as well as you hoped on something really brings down your ego. The only subjects I’ve ever gotten a B in were in History and Literature- my two best and favourite lessons! It was definitely a humbling experience because although I am not a person to brag or speak of my accomplishments out loud, at the time I felt internally like I was one of the best in those areas. It’s very important to have self-confidence and a strong belief in yourself, but at the same time always bring yourself back to the ground. I find that not getting the result I want reminds me that I’m not the best at that particular thing, and it really drives me to strive harder so that someday I will be the best. Lowering your view of yourself and your abilities allows you to identify and make room for improvement so that you can get even better at that skill next time round. However, it is, of course, essential to not feel demotivated and useless when you inevitably fail at something. A loser’s mindset leads to disappointment, but a person who works towards improvement continuously will surely reach success one day. So to summarise this all in one line: failing humbles you and helps you learn from your mistakes so that you can keep growing.

#3 It makes you mentally stronger

Not being the best at something certainly gives you a taste of reality. I don’t know anyone who has never failed at something, and I don’t think most people do. Many years ago, my mum sent me J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement speech, and to this day I often think about one of her quotes from it.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something… unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all- in which case you fail by default.”- J.K. Rowling

Here is a link to the YouTube video of her speech if you would like to give it a listen. I know there’s lots of talk going around this author right now, but it really is a very impactful speech!

Anyway, back to it. Getting a bad test grade prepares you for that inevitable disappointment that is a crucial part of reality. I think that I have become a mentally stronger person who is not as affected anymore by trivial details like a low mark or getting rejected from something. Lots of people are physically strong, but few have the power of a strong mind which is essential in the recipe for success. Having mind strength is not something you’re born with; it’s something that you cultivate as you go through different situations and develop as a person. Failing a test sucks, but look at the long-term effects like being mentally stronger to deal with more difficult situations later on, and it doesn’t seem so bad after all!

I hope that the next time you encounter a disappointment you will able to see past your initial sadness, regret, or fury to think about the benefits of failure and accept that rejection and failure are integral parts of life. I’ve discussed the three perks of getting a bad test grade which have been most impactful for me, but there are so many other benefits of failure, some of which are outlined in the speech I linked above. So keep striving for the best and don’t let the fear of failure hold you back- not even a little!

Why everyone needs to get a ‘B’ at least once was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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development fathers poetry poetry-on-medium self

My Papa

A Poem

Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash

I have been told that life is a journey, a road to be travelled
And so, after work, my papa set me on a bicycle with four wheels,
And watched me zoom, energetic,
Triumphant, as I rode to the corner and back,
This is easy’, I told him, under the light of the crescent moon.

Enlightened, I witnessed life as a series of steps,
The training wheels were removed and onto the ground I fell,
Until I picked myself up and got back on the bike once again.
Empowered, I told Papa he could let go,
So, he let me ride by myself, minded by his watchful eye,
Under the light of the harvest moon.

Exhilarated, for someone my age, a reason to celebrate,
I realized that life is a maze of things to discover,
Things hidden and deeply rooted,
as the stretches of tomatoes and zucchini,
Growing in the backyard garden we planted in the city,
the place we called home, filled with love, graffiti and stone.

Life is this labyrinth of discovery,
Nurtured by those who understand
a most unquenchable thirst,
and in so many ways, I realized how truly blessed I was,
not to fear the dark, the stark unknown,
as my children have grown,
basking in the nostalgic light of the eternal moon.

Connie Acoustic 2020

My Papa was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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