A Pep Talk About Failure
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Student Life

A Pep Talk About Failure

You'll be okay.

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A Pep Talk About Failure
Fast Company

You are a failure. Or rather, you are a person that fails. You have failed at hundreds of things over your lifetime, and you are going to fail thousands more. The idea of failing is awful, and for the high-strung masses, I am sure failing scares you. It should, and it shouldn’t.

Screwing up is a wonderful thing, and it is going to happen. You might be the luckiest person you know. You might be smarter than the average person: enrolled in gifted programs at school, the first finish a test and take the awkward walk up to the front desk, or even that poor soul in the library that everyone asks to proofread their essays. You might be talented, and everything you do might come easily to you. You picked up an instrument and even tried your hand at starting a band with your friends. Maybe sports were your thing and you always got picked first for dodgeball. Maybe you’re everything you wanted to be and everything you want to be in the future. If you have so much to contribute to the world, you can’t afford to screw up, right?

Millennials are incredibly vocal about their obscene levels of stress. They’re pent up about internships, their grades, social interaction, health, appearances, et cetera. Naturally, with advancements in social media and the constant attention everyone seems to receive from everyone, people are starting to feel like they’re on a stage. Any detail of their professional or personal life is archived somewhere, so when something goes wrong, everyone knows.

No pressure.

It starts to build up and makes people afraid of any kind of screw up. A single bad grade could plant the seed for a student’s college-appropriate level of alcoholism. A misstep at their entry-level internship suddenly turns into a crippling fear of losing the job. Finding an internship is hard enough, but then getting another one and having to compete with everyone else? Nightmare. You know what? It might happen. In fact, mistakes are going to happen, big and small.

By now you’re wondering when the “pep talk” part of the story kicks in.

You are going to screw up. A lot. Think about the things you’ve already screwed up in your life. You’ll remember the big ones, but I bet you don’t remember the time you tripped and fell down running to second base in Little League baseball. I bet you don’t remember the time you gave a customer the wrong change while working your first job at Dairy Queen. You probably remember the time you pushed a little too hard with the boy/girl/other you liked and embarrassed yourself. You remember the time you had a bloody nose and sneezed in the middle of high school Chemistry. You remember falling asleep with your laptop and accidentally dropping it off the bed, snapping it in half like a piece of cheap plywood.

Where are you now?

Maybe now you’re a little more careful around the person you’re crushing on. Maybe now you keep tissues on hand just in case. Maybe now you remember to set your laptop on your nightstand before you pass out.

You made a bunch of mistakes throughout your life and you’ve learned from them. You were smart before, but you’re smarter now. You were good at basketball before, but now you’re great. You were talented before, but now you’re skilled. Mistakes are a huge part of life and accepting them and making use of them is important. Let yourself screw up. If you’re working at an internship and you misfile some important documents, someone will fix it and show you the right way. That’s what internships are for. If your grades are bad, you’ll learn what you need to do to do better, because school is for learning.

Sometimes, it’s almost better to make a mistake because you get some experience out of it. It may seem silly, but those with high anxiety freak out doing anything wrong. If you’re still afraid of making those mistakes, then maybe you need to condition yourself. Start small, and screw up on purpose. Mistype something on a keyboard? Keep typing, but do it bigger and wilder. You’ll have to fix it eventually, but enjoy how dumb it is that you spelled “depends” wrong. Then you can laugh off dropping and breaking your phone. Then the next time you get a bad grade on an exam, you’ll remember how many other bad grades people have gotten over the years. No one is perfect, and no one will fault you if you work hard. Make mistakes and make them worth something. You’re only ever human. It will all be okay.

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