Stop Fearing Failure, It's Good For You

Stop Fearing Failure, It's Good For You

Embracing failure gives you the freedom to learn and grow.

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When I was sixteen and angsty, I embarked on a personal challenge I titled "Project Failure." The goal of the project, according to my tumblr bio, was to shatter my fear of failure. The reasoning behind the project — inspired by the entrepreneurs idolized by my high school self — was the idea that failure is a positive thing. Experiencing failure, ideally, would teach me valuable lessons and help me succeed long-term.

In the early years of SpaceX, Elon Musk himself said, "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."

The general consensus among entrepreneurs is that risk-taking is essential to innovation. And, if you are afraid of failure, you will inevitably avoid taking risks. This is applicable to professional, academic, and personal life. If you fear failure, you will avoid trying new things and stay tucked within the limits of your comfort zone, only doing things that you know you will succeed at. You will miss out on big opportunities.

My personal motive behind "Project Failure" was a discontentment with my accomplishments and a strong craving for adventure. Part of this might have simply stemmed from my age — most sixteen-year-olds do feel this relatable angst. However, part of it was a genuine concern for my future. I wanted to be well-equipped to thrive in college and my adult life, and I knew I had some growing up to do. I needed to get out of my comfort zone. I needed to fail.

So I started small. I applied for jobs that I was unqualified for. I took rigorous classes. I set challenging, potentially unattainable goals. Nothing happened. The only thing I was failing at was letting go of my fear. My perfectionism drove me to succeed.

At seventeen, I felt a gaping lack of meaning in my life, so I ramped up the risk-taking. I had wanted to start an online art store for years, so I used "Project Failure" as a catalyst. I invested time into designing my products and put them up for sale in my store, well aware that the likelihood of success was slim. For the first three months, I made zero sales. I allowed myself to fail.

Then, something unexpected happened: I stuck with it. I continued to pour my passion into designing my products, and I sold my first sticker the next month, making a whopping twenty-one cents of profit. Still, I stuck with it. Over the next year, sales increased exponentially, and they continue to grow today.

At eighteen, as I started college, life felt less meaningless, but I was still desperate for adventure. Moving out of my parents' house wasn't as exciting as I had expected it to be, and college didn't feel particularly meaningful. I needed more from life.

That meant letting go of 4.0

During my first semester of college, I took five classes, managed my online art shop, started a new part-time job, started writing for two publications, and went on a new adventure every week. In order to pour myself into more rewarding work, I took a step back from my classes. I knew I needed to keep my GPA high enough to keep my scholarships and apply to graduate school, but there was no need for it to be perfect. Letting go of 4.0 opened up a new world of opportunities. Permission to fail allowed me to grow.

If you are stuck in a rut, consider starting your own "Project Failure." Giving yourself permission to fail changes your life by removing the constraints of perfectionism. Failure sets you free.

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To The Girl Who Isn't Graduating On Time, It Won't Feel Any Less Amazing When You Do

Graduating is something to be proud of no matter how long it takes you.

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To the girl who isn't graduating college "on time,"

I promise, you will get there eventually, and you will walk across that graduation stage with the biggest smile on your face.

You may have a different journey than the people you grew up with, and that is OKAY. You may have some twists and turns along the way, a few too many major changes, a life change, you may have taken most of a semester off to try to figure your life out, and you're doing the best you can.

Your family and your friends don't think less of you or your accomplishments, they are proud of your determination to get your degree.

They are proud of the woman you are becoming. They don't think of you as a failure or as someone any less awesome than you are. You're getting your degree, you're making moves towards your dreams and the life that you have always wanted, so please stop beating yourself up while you see people graduating college on time and getting a job or buying a car.

Your time will come, you just keep doing what you need to do in order to get on that graduation stage.

Your path is set out for you, and you will get there with time but also with patience. The place you're at right now is where you are supposed to be. You are going to thrive and you are going to be the best version of you when you graduate and start looking for a company that you will be proud to work for. Don't look on social media and feel less than, because at least you're still working towards your degree that you are finally passionate about. You will be prepared. You will be ready once the time comes and you cross the stage, move away, and start your journey in whatever field you're going into.

Don't question yourself, and be confident in your abilities.

With love,

A girl who isn't graduating on time

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The College Experience

A series telling the true experiences of modern day college students.

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Everyone tells you to prepare for the best years of your life.

They tell you to prepare for all of the new challenges and new opportunities.

They say that you will meet your future people in college.

What they don't tell you is how much it will hurt.

Seeing old friends disappear because you are no longer home.

Watching your grades fall because the class is too difficult to pass.

Hearing and witnessing your family struggle and you aren't able to be with them.

Seeing all of the adventures that others are going on while you are stuck in your dorm room with the same stack of papers you have been trying to finish for three days now.

They don't tell you how difficult the transition will be.

They especially don't tell you how hard it is to live with someone.

The best of friends can live together and then grow to hate each other.

Complete strangers will move in and never speak.

You'll find friends that are simply just your "writing friend" or "band friend".

Many of the labels from high school can sometimes stick around.

If you're not out drinking or clubbing, then people think you don't have a life.

College is great, but don't think that it will be easy.

You have to make things easy in order for things to happen.

You can't just go around doing whatever and expect things to work out.

It takes time and it takes commitment to succeed in life, and in college.

The best way to deal with it all, find someone!

Find someone that you can get coffee with and watch sports with.

Find someone to eat dinner and lunch with.

Find someone to study religion and math before the next test.

Find someone!

Find your someone, a friend or someone special, to help you make it through everything that life throws at you.

If I had that someone I might have been better off my first year.

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