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Isobel (Year 11) reminded us all at our Principal’s Assembly this week, that the biggest, most transformative moments of our lives often come through crisis or failure.
“My life is the sum of all my failures, and that’s not a bad thing.
As girls we tend to have a fear of being imperfect, so we focus on trying to be perfect and consider anything less a failure. I don’t know where this comes from, whether it is drilled into us as children or a part of the female brain, because most boys don’t seem to have the same barrier.
The problem with this is that it stops us from wanting to try new things and be out of our comfort zone, ultimately making us fear failing. But why should we fear something that is so valuable?
‘Failure’, is a word that has gotten a bad rap; when we think of failure we associate it with a negative experience. But the actual definition of a failure is ‘not succeeding’, this doesn’t make any reference to future capabilities, or who you are as a person. Simply that you tried or did something and didn’t succeed.
If I apply this definition to my life, then I have had a lot of failures. Some notable ones include losing a ski during my ski race, crashing, and getting caught in a fence, missing almost every single shot in a netball game, walking most of the way home with my skirt tucked into my bag...and that’s just this year
In fact, it is impossible not to go through life without failing. JK Rowling put it well when she said that, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
Mistakes and failures are very important in making us who we are. They teach us lessons, build our resilience and give us a story. We don’t tell a baby that they’ll never walk just because they fell over once. In fact, it is this falling over, flat on their face that actually teaches them how to walk. If we apply this to our own lives, we will realise that it is our failures that allow us to succeed. It is important that we fail over and over again to find out the best way to do things. It helps us grow.
For example, Google X is a company that are trying to solve problems in the world such as providing internet to over 4 billion people who live in rural and remote communities that currently have little to no access to the internet. When they come up with ideas and prototypes to solve such problems they actually look for faults in why the project will fail, and try to do what they term as ‘kill the project’. They have even given a bonus to every single person who has been able to ‘kill’ their project. They try to make their projects fail because they recognise the incredible value of failure, in making their end result and solution to the problem the best it could be.
The important thing to remember is that failure is temporary, no matter how bad it feels when it happens, no matter how embarrassed or annoyed you are. Knowing this has helped me overcome my own failures.
Another thing that has also helped me through all my perceived failures and embarrassments is the motto: don’t dwell on the past. In Middle School I was very good at dwelling on things that had happened. I would get worked up and waste time feeling sorry for myself, wishing that I could have done things differently and regretting everything I had said or done. But the truth is that I can’t change the past no matter how many times I have wish for an undo button, back arrow or ‘Command Z’ for my life, so instead of wasting time wishing that my failures never happened, I accept that they’ve happened, remember that this is not the end of the world and use them to figure out a way to try again.
So … embrace failures! Yours, your friends, families and teachers because whilst you can give it a fair crack, you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Isobel (Year 11)
Vice Head Prefect