A Letter to Failure

This week I decided I wanted to post something different. Given the last entry’s focus on “perfection”, I thought it would be apt to share this particular piece. This was something I wrote a while ago but holds true regardless. Failure is an entity that shall accompany us throughout our lives. Be it in a professional endeavor, academics, personal goals, or even relationships. There is no escape from failure. But should failure be viewed with such avoidance? This “letter” that I wrote speaks of my personal relationship with failure, and how it has evolved with time.

I’ll be honest; all my life I avoided you. The very thought of you would cause my heart to pound, my brain to short circuit. In today’s world where fourteen-year old kids have IQs as high as Einstein,  where every other person is an app developer, where world records are being broken every day, only a crazy person would be okay with the possibility that you could visit them any time. Why would anyone want you in their life? You make people doubt themselves and feel defeated.

I’ve had my fair share of insignificant meetings with you. Of course, you came to me every time I did poorly on a test, or every time I had a bad day on the soccer pitch. Back then, I was able to shake you off, move on. However, in recent years, you have insisted on hanging out with me. High school. Ugh. I felt as though I had the ball in my court: I was top of my class, had more friends than I could count, and won virtually every award. It all seemed so easy. But you were just waiting for me to drop the ball.

I remember the day distinctly – it was December 19th, 2017, the night before my Physics exam. I knew I wasn’t prepared and was certain I would fail the test. The very thought of you made me quake. All my life I had breezed through tests, but I had a panic attack that night, and the next day, you came to me while I wrote. I did not fail, but something had changed. Nothing was ever the same again. Depression submerged me. I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t focus on my studies. I found no joy in anything.  

And I couldn’t stop thinking about you. You drove me to rage at times: I felt you were responsible for the disappointment that haunted my nights, the self-loathing that stalked me by day. I perceived you to be my greatest enemy, stopping me from achieving all I aspired to. I didn’t get elected as student body president, I wasn’t named valedictorian, I wasn’t Mr. Popular anymore. I blamed you. It was all your fault.  

Time passed. I graduated high school. I didn’t make it into any of the colleges I dreamt of attending as a child. Self-doubt consumed me. I blamed you. Your fault again. Before I knew it, I was in Illinois, in college. But you came with me, overwhelming me, flooding me with regret. I kept looking back. I forgot to look forward. For a time. Then one day I looked up, and the sky was clear. I was sick of you. More than ready to terminate our association. After weeks of meditation and countless new experiences, I realized something strange: I had it wrong all along. Maybe, it wasn’t your fault. Possibly, you aren’t the worst companion. Certainly, you are always accompanied by uncomfortable emotions, but you did not deserve the hatred I directed at you.

Thanks to you, I grew as a person; you were not the enemy, but actually the teacher. I finally learned to love myself for who I am, despite my flaws and mistakes. Our interactions have humbled me and led me to develop a great resilience to adversity. Furthermore, I learned the virtues of perseverance, discipline, gratitude, and humility. You never wanted to define me – you were a catalyst for change, a stepping-stone on my journey. I am such a different person now than at the outset of high school.

Back then, every misstep seemed catastrophic, every negative emotion suffocating. Today, I understand that these are features of every life, necessary experiences that impel us to drag ourselves out of our comfort zones. Just as a relationship with you is imperative if one is ever to truly grow up and accept the fact that sunny skies are never endless. I get it now: you will always be around, ever ready to remind me that I am not infallible, and this is a good thing. I am human, and you are a critical part of life.

I don’t fear us meeting anymore; I look forward to it – every time we meet, I learn something new about myself. What could be better than that? I know we’ll meet again and when we do, I will embrace you with open arms – looking into myself to discover what needs to change. 

Until next time,

Dhruv.

6 thoughts on “A Letter to Failure

  1. Wow. Your writing is really creative and impactful. Each experience and every word resonated with my own. I enjoyed reading it. We certainly do need to change the way we perceive each of our emotions, every emotion is there to teach us something about ourselves and our life, and help us grow. Every emotion and every experience is essential, be it negative or positive.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! And you’re absolutely right about the importance of experiences in our lives. Everything happens for a reason!

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  2. Human endeavour is based on effort and relentless pursuit.The ability to ‘keep at it’ come what may is not a mere concept laced in ephemerality.But the bedrock of what lives are meant to be- journeys in industrious and relentless pursuit to make it worth living a little more.Failure,as you have realized, is the dark shadowy cousin of success,only its more effective in its mere conception.Because theres an element of fear associated with it we tend to go weak in the knees by the mere thought of it.But embracing it makes us shed ordinariness and transforms us into human beings who can withstand all that life can throw at us.And at times it can throw a lot.So heres to failure, sometimes a glorious failure means a lot more than spectacular success.In the end its what we become by our efforts that counts.
    Well written,try and recall the times you have failed gloriously and that would have made the moment more enduring than the success you were otherwise aspiring to achieve. I am sure there would be a few.we all have a collection of those.failure has been my one true friend-blunt,loyal in its attributes and one who has ensured i became better at whatever i was playing at.

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