I was talking to some people about certain qualifications and I was on the ‘consider if you really want to do this‘ side and the other person was on the ‘do it!!!’ side.
They accused me of discouraging the person and I was wondering how that was that case when I was just speaking from experience.
Never, ever, ever, EVER embark on a task that requires a lot of hard work and effort just because someone wants you do it. You have to want to do it.
When I was a child, I was academically brilliant. I did well on tests, on exams, written assignments and everything. School was not difficult. That’s because I enjoyed learning. I still do. I’m knowledgeable about a variety of things and that’s because I’m interested in them. Anyway, after becoming accustomed to performing well, the worst thing in life is failing. And not the I messed around because the test didn’t mean anything failure, but the kind where nothing works out no matter how hard you try.
I realised that my life was basically a series of letters and numbers. Especially to my parents. My worth was judged on my academic ability. I will admit that I slipped up, I got distracted and that didn’t help, but it was a case of trying to please everyone but myself. I cracked under the pressure and I’m still trying to piece myself together. I was so caught up on getting 100% that I fumbled and couldn’t get back up.
With that in mind, I’ve learnt a thing or two.
1. People fail all the time
That doesn’t seem like something one needs to learn but I’ve found solidarity in failing. It’s one thing for you to fail, but knowing that you’re not alone makes it better. Not in a ‘yay, we failed!’ sense, but in an it’s not just me sense. When I failed, I felt ashamed. I felt sick. I felt like I’d let everyone down, but it happens. To succeed in life, I think you need to fail sometimes. That’s just how life is.
2. You need to succeed for yourself and other people
When I was growing up, my parents had a funny way of motivating us. It was more ‘make sure you get 100% in everything or else‘ than ‘we will love you no matter what’.
It set up a weird situation where nothing was good enough. 100% becomes 100% at all times, it’s always what you can do next. There’s not much time for just being yourself. So, there comes a point where you have to realise that pleasing other people is kind of impossible. They will never be pleased because achieving 100% at all times is kinda limited to geniuses. Geniuses are kinda rare.
The biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life is doing things because other people told me to. It’s a mistake that haunts me to this day. I do well in the things that I pick for myself. During my degree, my dissertation was more or less the only thing I had free reign over. I got the highest mark on it. I’m never going to listen to anyone blindly again when I’m the one who has to do whatever it is.
Sometimes you have to put your foot down and say no.
3. Sometimes, you need to fail to see where you’re going wrong
I’m in the middle of trying to figure out what to do with my life. Depending on who you are, you might wonder why I haven’t figured it out yet when I tell you how old I am. I have a STEM degree in a reasonably good subject. Despite my average grade (which felt amazing to me because hey, I didn’t fail!) I could go onto become a doctor if I was crazy enough to spend another seven plus years in school, or I could work elsewhere in the medical field. I could but instead I’m slumming it at my current job which I’m vastly overqualified for.
I’m not the only one in the same predicament, but I’m here because all of that medical stuff was really not what I wanted to do. I was pushed into it and stuck doing it even after I failed woefully many times. If I could go back, I’d just change track after the first sign of trouble, but it the end, finishing what I’d started became something that I had to do. Call that pride or whatever, but sometimes I wonder if it’d be easier to have just quit. Back then I would have seen it as another failure, but in hindsight, maybe it would made me rest easier. Either way, I can pinpoint the exact moment where everything went crazy. In future, I will use that to guide me so that I don’t make the same mistake.
To summarise, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If people classify that as failure, it’s just another part of your journey. Nobody’s perfect
4. Failing isn’t the end of the world
Richard Branson is famously known for not having many school qualifications. That might be perceived as failure to some but he’s a billionaire. He wrote his own definition of success and made it work for him.
When you fail, give yourself time to breathe and think. There’s usually two options – try again or move on. Other people will try to put you down, but you have to take it on the chin. My parents still bring up my failures on a regular basis, but I try to set myself little goals now and then. If I can do them, I can set my mind to bigger tasks when it comes from it. I can learn from past mistakes. Namely, that I won’t do well in something I’m pushed to do. However, that doesn’t mean that I should stop trying to better myself. It just means that I have to keep going, keep trying and enjoy what I’m doing.
Normal snark (or something like it) will be resumed shortly.