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Ted Talks: Failure

It’s that time of the semester again – stress is in the air. All around us, holiday decorations are going up, and so are the mumblings and conversations centered on the English essay that just can’t be cracked, the next big math test that will make or break the grade, the PSAT, SAT, ACT that looms over us… and the list goes on. A common thread is a sense of anxiety, embodied by the question of what happens, just what happens, “if I don’t do well.”

It can be a frightening and an absorbing feeling. Will that test lead to a bad grade? Will that grade turn out to be why I can’t get into college? Will I end up not being successful because of it? What happens then? Dramatic, perhaps, but after hearing many variations of these questions from my peers lately, I am beginning to feel their dread, too.

Looking around, I find that this sense of anxiety is not only pervasive, but it is also making many of us so fearful of failing that we start to play too safe. I hear people say – look, she was successful, so I will take the same classes, join those clubs, and that path will lead me to success, too. While it sounds tempting and can be very rewarding, I’d like to think that simply following the path of what has been done before is not always the right path for everyone.

“Fallor ergo sum,” Saint Augustine had said, “I err, therefore I am.” I hope we can all remember his famous words and realize that it is only through failures, errors, and mistakes, that we learn the value of progress. Letting fear hold us back from trying new things, or trying too hard, only keeps us standstill. I understand the stress of tests, essays and applications, because I am going through them, too. In fact, every time I write a column, I feel scared, because I’m wary it’s not good, I’m sensitive to the comments and judgments afterwards, and I don’t want to disappoint. But I also know I must keep on pushing forward, or else I won’t ever have a chance to be better. Some may argue it’s better to keep on doing what one already knows best, but I hope we all try to not let fear hold us back from trying new things or going for them with all that we have.

If we have goals and dreams, if we have desires to go places and do things, then we will probably feel hurt or disappointed when, along the way, we stumble and fail. We have to accept our mistakes, however far away from our desired goal, and learn to live and move on with it. Our dissatisfactions shouldn’t just be reminders of the failures; they can become reminders that we are striving to be better. Through our mistakes, we will reach our dreams.

By Ted Zhu, Editor-in-Chief


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