Two weeks ago, I had two very different experiences following my own hard work. One of them was positive: I submitted the first draft of an essay for a scholarship I was hoping to apply to, and I was then approved to move on to the final round and apply for the scholarship. The other experience was negative: I completely blew an audition and wasn't cast as a result.
In both experiences, I had worked really, really hard. I had spent hours working on my essay, researching existing studies, conducting my own studies, and perfecting my writing. I had worked meticulously late into multiple nights reworking my essay. Similarly, I had prepared extensively for my audition. Every free moment I had, I practiced my audition song. It was a song I had sung for many auditions before. I was perfectly comfortable with it. I submitted my essay draft and a few days later received the news that I had been selected to move on to the final round. On the other hand, I completely tanked in my audition and probably gave one of the worst performances of my entire life. While one outcome reflected my efforts, the other outcome was nowhere even close to what I had hoped for.
In life, and especially in college, it is important to remember that sometimes, no matter how much you prepare and no matter how hard you try, you will not always get what you want. You will not always get the best grade, even when you think you have produced your best work. You will not always find an exam easy, even when you have been studying and preparing for weeks. You will not always give a successful audition, even when you are singing a song you have sung successfully a million times. In my opinion, we would all be better adapted to shortcomings, screw-ups, and downright failures if we accepted that life never promised to be fair. Yes, you might have worked hard at something and put in your all, but life doesn't owe you anything.
But that does not mean that all your hard work was for naught. Sure, the outcome was far from what you had hoped for or expected. But from hard work that doesn't give us the results we desire we can learn how to improve for the future. Failure even in the most ideal circumstances teaches us to step back and evaluate why things did not go as planned. We can ask ourselves, "What about my work was not satisfactory for the grade I expected?" "How did my studying fail to prepare me for the exam?" I know a question I have asked myself is, "How can I work to improve my performance during auditions?" In my failure, I have been able to take a step back and seriously evaluate the effect that my nerves have on my performance. I have also been able to realize that my ability to successfully audition for singing groups does not necessarily translate to successfully auditioning for a play or musical. I have talked with my friends who are more experienced in such auditions, and I have learned that different auditions require entirely different types of confidence, from the way you enter and exit the room to the way you carry yourself to the way you introduce yourself to the way you interact with the auditioners. I am working toward future success by learning and growing from my shortcoming.
Even if your hard work does not pan out the way you imagined, your efforts are always worth it. In your effort, you know that your failure is not for your lack of trying, but rather it is perhaps due to misdirected or misinformed trying. From this, you can grow from your mistakes and improve your hard work tactics for the future, allowing you to work steadily toward surefire success.