We have become masters at evading the F-word. No, I’m not talking about cursing; I think it’s safe to say the majority of the student body has yet to master the evasion of that word. No, I’m talking about a seven letter word, one we have avoided our whole lives — F A I L U R E.
We’re afraid of the action and the word itself, so it’s never spoken, never whispered. Because to fail is most certainly a Bad Thing. We swerve around it with apathy when we pretend we never cared about our efforts in the first place and therefore, can’t be injured by our lack of success. We bolster our self-esteem with phrases like “try again,” and we do, and sometimes we fail again, and sometimes we don’t, but we never look failure in the face.
Failure is a source of shame, failure is a Bad Thing — but it is inevitable. We will fail. There is nothing as fundamentally human. And yet we fear it anyway. We see failure as a punch in the face that will knock us down on the ground–and keep us there.
But to say I’m not scared too would be a lie. No one likes the taste of failure, but it tends to linger. In second grade, my attempt to become our class president was futile when my competitor offered candy and extra recess in exchange for votes. In seventh grade, I tried out for three softball teams and was rejected by each one without advancing to the second round of tryouts. Last year, I submitted three pieces of writing to a literary magazine, and each piece was rejected.
Cue the emotional crisis. And yet, despite my rejection, I learned how to lose, I learned what my weaknesses are (anything athletic), and I received pages of feedback about my work — feedback crucial to making me a better writer and a better human being. I FAILED. This is me, screaming it, without any form of evasion. This is me, with my black eye and a handprint across my cheek, realizing the punch only hurts until the bruises fade. And the next time failure’s fist swings down on me, I’ll be stronger.
I might even land a punch or two.