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Almost Everyone has Experienced Failure, and Why It is Okay

14 Oct 2020 | STORIES | 0 Comment
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Dear Ms Huda,

Thank you for applying to the University of Leicester to undertake postgraduate study. I am pleased to inform you that the University is offering you a place to study for a taught postgraduate course. We are very much looking forward to seeing you in September. 

Holy cow! One of my biggest dreams is about to come true!

At least, that’s what I thought.


This may sound weird, but I used to love going to school, going to campus everyday. I just love the experience of studying, learning. I remember, when I was in elementary school, my mom would ask me to stop reading a book or studying because it was already nine or ten o’clock in the evening and my school homework was already completed anyway. I would carry a book everywhere I go, and my relatives would call me ‘bookworm’. And my dad, he would go to the flea market every weekend to buy me a stack of 10-20 old editions of Bobo magazine. And I would pace my reading so those magazines would last throughout the following week. 

Back in college, I really wanted to study abroad, pursued a master's degree. I earned some scholarships while doing my undergraduate degree. I was being considered as one of the top graduates in my class. 

Right after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I received a job offer working as a PR consultant - which is a job that I want to do. And at that time, life was as smooth as I planned it to be. I spent two years working as a consultant before I applied for the Chevening scholarship, which requires a minimum of two years of working experience.

As I waited for news regarding the Chevening scholarship, I learned that I had been accepted at the University of Leicester. It seems the plan was quite smooth and on track, until I got the email from the Chevening Secretariat - I have failed. 

I was devastated. I emailed the university right away to let them know that I declined the offer. 

“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 have failed by default.” A quote from J.K. Rowling that I stumbled upon one day while surfing the internet. 

Anyhow, below are several reasons that can help us see failure from a different perspective:

1. Everyone has failed

If you look into stories of the most successful people, you’ll find that they have failed, too. Your talent, intelligence, hard work, and passion will not be able to save you. At least once in your life, you are going to fail at something. You’re not and never alone. 

Have you ever thought about the failure you experienced back in the past? But look at you now! Look how far you have come! Failure is just a phase in our lives that makes us learn and think about why we failed so in the future we don’t make the same mistakes.

2. You become a more empathetic person

Empathy opens the door to building true value in the world. When we’re empathetic, we’ll be more willing to help others since we can relate to them better. We experienced failure and we were feeling that mentally and emotionally with others whom we might try to help. 

During my career as a PR consultant and while I volunteered in some social communities, I met so many people and most of them are younger than me. When they share their worries or times when they experienced failures, I relate to them better and am able to share some insights or opinions or even advices, if they asked me to.

3. It is time to find out the stronger version of yourself

Some people fail, and they give up on their goals. Others fail, and they gain more strength. They bounce back from the pain. Failure shouldn’t stop them from achieving their goals, instead, it should make you push harder to achieve your goals. 

Sometimes we don't realize how strong we are as a person until we experience failure. At first, failure makes us think that we aren’t able to do things, that there are no other ways we can achieve our goals. But, if we bounce back from the failure we will surprise how strong we are as a person. 

4. You won’t be ‘a failure’ because of a failure

Thomas Alva Edison had already tried 9,000 experiments before he invented the electric light bulb. Do that 9,000 failures make him ‘a failure’? - Of course, not. Instead, he became one of the most important people in human history.  

Sure you’re not Edison, but you - as well - a human being like him, so it is okay to fail, even frequently. 

5. It makes you a more creative person!

Failure makes us think of a new way of doing things. A mistake is just a stepping stone for us to create a better way in everything we do. If you don’t succeed in the first attempt, think again why it is not working, and find another way to do that thing. Eventually, you will find which way that works and which that isn’t. 


Back to me trying to study abroad, one said to me, “You did not fail, you’re halfway to a success.” - I stared at him and was like - where on earth did this prince charming come from. 


Photo by Conner Ching on Unsplash

Written by: Ayu Nurul Huda
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