College Taught Me How To Fail

College Taught Me How To Fail

College is full of surprises. Get ready for the most ruthless of them all: failure.
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It's no secret that college, job and internship searches, and life, in general, requires a certain level of failure tolerance. It's inevitable; sometimes you just won't get into the college of your choice, the program of your choice, the club of your choice, the team of your choice. Especially now, as life goes from your small world at high school where you were the best at what you did, to the not-so-small world of college where everyone around you is the best at what they do. Sometimes people are better than you, and that's just the way it is. Sometimes you pull far out of your comfort zone and get slapped on the wrists because you reached farther than you were ready for. Sometimes failure is just inevitable. But it most certainly isn't and shouldn't be the end of your world. So, you need failure tolerance. You need resilience. You need to be able to bounce back from it and keep striving on.

But the suckiest part about it is that in order to build failure tolerance, you inherently have to fail.

Many of us, getting to this point, we never really failed at anything. So to hear, "Sorry, you weren't good enough," for the first time can be soul crushing. Especially after you put so much hard work into it, especially after you thought you were a sure shot for the job.

I applied to a club recently, and I went to their networking events, did research, worked for hours on my resume and wrote a cover letter, dressed up, learned what a case interview was. Worst of all, I set my sights really high. I thought I was good enough to get in. I really, really wanted to get in. I made it all the way through to the last round, but I wasn't good enough. For any number of reasons, I just wasn't good enough to make the cut. I was upset over it. I was mad at how it was such a waste of time, how I had spent so much energy on this one club, and ultimately got nothing out of it.

A few hours of thinking later, I realized that I actually got so much out of it, out of the experience. This was a solid learning experience. And no, that's not the most cliché thing to say. It's real. I learned so much from this experience. I learned what business professional and business casual mean. I learned what is a case interview. I learned how to write a proper resume (thanks to my awesome brother). I learned how to follow up and maintain relationships, how to network. And, yes, I learned how to deal with failure.

The important thing to remember is that it happens, to everyone, and the best thing to do is pick up and keep going on. "Just keep swimming," like Dory says. It's not the end of the world. Plus, this is the time for us to make mistakes, to go down the wrong paths, to tank interviews, to say the wrong thing, to build that failure tolerance. Right now in these first years of college, everything is low-risk and very, very high return. There's no other time like it. We have to take advantage of it. I'm glad I went out for that club, because even though I was rejected, I learned so much.

And when I come back next semester, I'll dazzle them. Because failure is nothing I can't handle.


(Shout-out to my brother for the inspiration for this article, for picking me up when I was down. You make me who I am, and I would be nowhere near where I am if it weren't for you.)

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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I'm That Girl With A Deep Voice, But I'm Not Some Freak Of Nature

I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man.

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My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I joke that rather than getting higher, my voice got lower throughout puberty.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when my family members say "Hi Todd" when they pick up the phone when I call. Todd is my brother. I am a girl.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to laugh when I have been asked by other females if they're "in the right bathroom" when I tell them "I'm not in line" or "someone's in here" when there's a knock on the stall.

Keep in mind that in most female bathrooms, there are no urinals present and there is a sign outside the door that says "WOMEN." Quite obviously, they're in the correct bathroom, just thrown off by the octave of my voice.

For the girl who asked me if she was in the right bathroom because she was "caught off guard and thought I was a boy," I'm just wondering...

What part about my long hair, mascara, shorts not down to my knees, presence (small presence, but a presence none the less) of boobs, and just my overall demeanor was not enough validation that you are, in fact, in the correct restroom?

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. I have learned to hold back tears when someone tells me that I sound like a man. Or, when someone calls me over to talk to their friends so they can see how "offsetting" my voice sounds to them.

My favorite story is when I was in a store, and I asked one of the women there a question about a product.

This woman had the audacity to ask me when I "went through my transformation."

She was suggesting that I was a transgender girl because of the sound of my voice. Please recognize that I respect and wholeheartedly accept the trans- population. Please also recognize that I was born a girl, still am a girl, always will be a girl, and asking someone if they are a different gender than they appear to be is not the best way to make a sale.

Frustrated, I told her that she should find a better plastic surgeon and walked out.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be.

And, to make matters worse, I am not your typical "girly-girl."

I die for the New York Rangers, have maybe two dresses in my closet but three shelves full of hand-me-down sweatshirts from my brother and Adidas pants. I do not own a "blouse" nor do I plan on owning one except maybe for business-casual occasions.

Naturally, when a deep voice is paired with a sports-oriented, athletic short-loving, sarcastic girl who couldn't tell you the difference between a stiletto and an average high-heel, I GUESS things can seem "off." However, regardless of the difference you see/hear, no one has the right to make someone feel bad about themselves.

What I always struggled with the most is how (most, moral, common-sense) people will never tell someone they don't know, who may be overweight, that "they're fat" or that they don't like the shirt that they're wearing. Yet, because my voice is not something physically seen, it has become fair game for strangers and acquaintances alike to judge and make comments about.

I used to break down into hysterics when I heard a comment about my voice, whether I was six years old or seventeen years old.

There are times that I still do because I am so fed up and just completely bamboozled by the fact that at the age of twenty, there are still people who just have a blatant disregard for others' feelings and a lack of understanding of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say.

But, just like I ask those people not to judge me, I suppose I can't judge them on their lack of common sense and respect for others.

I'd be lying if I said that the hundreds of thousands of comments I've heard and received targeted at my voice growing up did not play a role in my life. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster. I no longer want to be heard on the radio or seen on TV; snarky comments about my voice being one of the reasons why (among others, like a change of interest and just overall life experiences).

I'd be lying if I said that my struggle with public speaking didn't partially stem from negative feedback about my voice.

I'd be lying if I said that there weren't days I tried to talk as little as possible because I didn't want to be judged and that I am sometimes hesitant to introduce myself to new people because I'm scared my voice will scare them away.

I would also be lying if I said that my voice didn't make me who I am.

I joke constantly about it now, because half the shit that comes out of my mouth mixed with my actions, interests, beliefs, etc., would sound absolutely WHACK if I had a high-pitched "girly" voice.

My voice matches my personality perfectly, and the criticism I have and continue to receive for my "manly" sounding voice has helped shaped me into who I am today. I have learned to love my voice when people have relentlessly tried to make me hate it. I have learned to take the frustration I felt towards my voice and turn it into sympathy for those who have something going on in their life, and therefore feel compelled to make a comment about me, a stranger's voice, to make themselves feel better.

I've learned that to laugh at yourself is to love yourself.

And, I say this not for sympathy. Not for someone to say, "Wait, Syd, I love your voice!"

I say this because I want it to be a reminder for people to watch what they say, and use that noggin before you speak. I say this because I also want to be the voice (haha, get it, 'voice') for those who feel like they've lost theirs.

My voice is deep. Always has been, always will be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So no, I would not be a good alto in a choir because I think I'm tone deaf. And, when you call MY phone number, it is very unlikely that it is my brother or dad answering. Just say hello, because 99.9% of the time, if it's ME you're calling, it's ME that's answering.

Dr. Suess said, "A person's a person no matter how small."

Now I'm saying, "A girl is a girl no matter her octave."

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10 Thoughts You Have During The Best Month Of The Year, AKA October

How can you NOT love October... oops, sorry I mean Monstober.

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October is seriously the best month of the year, and if you disagree, well you're just wrong. I mean seriously, between the sweater weather and Halloween prep and the smell of pumpkin, the month of October is truly a gift.

And of course, a month this incredible brings about a million and one thoughts about what it will bring and how it will be AMAZING! However, a million thoughts would be a lot to capture so I'm going to tell you about the ten that were most prevalent for me on October 1st.

1. "Where did September go?"

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I mean September really only is Pre-October, and I'm happy that it's over, but what? Wasn't it August yesterday?

2. "How soon is too soon to hang up Halloween decorations?" 

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It's never too soon. You've already come so far by waiting till this very day. Go ahead and get your pumpkins and black and orange streamers!

3. "Do you think I can still use my Harris Teeter discount for pumpkins?"

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This got me so excited until I realized that the Harris Teeter student discount doesn't apply after a certain amount of time, and that's just unfair.

4. "Wait I hope they haven't moved on from Halloween and onto Christmas decorations in stores yet."

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This is a serious problem. What if I need to add to my Halloween collection? I'm sorry I didn't remember to in August when Halloween decorations were out.

5. "Okay, I'm already behind on Halloween costumes. What am I going to do?"

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Halloween costumes are a big, if not the biggest, deal, and they take lots of brainstorming and planning. There's so much to consider, You have to look cute and be original; not everyone can dress up as a boxer or an alien AGAIN this year.

6. "Wait, how many days of Halloweekend are there this year?"

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Here's where costume planning gets complicated. Not only do you have to plan for one day, but Halloween itself is a several-day celebration that you have to be absolutely completely prepared for!

7. "Pumpkin spice is finally acceptable!"

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And I'm not just talking about the lattes. Pumpkin muffins, ice cream, bread, pie, etc!!! Sure, September is technically fall and therefore pumpkin spice season, but I'm a firm believer in October as the true start to when you can stuff your face with pumpkin spiced foods all day everyday without judgment.

8. "Is it social acceptable to start eating candy corn again?"

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The candy corn debate is ongoing, but October is truly the only time when candy corn lovers can indulge with no judgment.

9. "Netflix better have "Halloweentown," or I will sue!" 

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The "Halloweentown" series is only one of the greatest series of Halloween movies of all time; they're classics. For us college students who don't always have time to watch movies when they air on regular TV, Netflix is a go-to for Halloween movies. But if Netflix is lacking in the best Halloween movies, we're going to have a problem.

10. "How much homework do I have for tonight? I can make time for a Halloween movie marathon, right?"

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There's always time. It's important to your mental health. Your professors won't mind.

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