As new students fill the dorms and classrooms, there is a sense of eagerness to attain an unreached potential which is known to come hand-in-hand with the college experience. Making friends, joining clubs, and doing well in classes are some of the many expectations which come with the idea of college success. However, with the excitement to thrive comes the adverse: the fear of failure.
Failures can range: from walking into the wrong room on the first day of classes or not doing well on a test, to not getting a desired grade in a class or an offer for a dream internship. With college comes not only many opportunities to thrive but also many opportunities to fall flat on your face! Some people may be weary, as there is a possibility of failure. However, with a positive mindset, failures can transform the way one moves down their road of success.
I understand that failure can be scary, I’ve been there time and time again. As I started my Elon journey, I hoped to find my way to what would be the perfect college experience. I realized that all my peers were doing this as well—putting pressure on themselves to succeed with flying colors in everything they did. Perfection is known to be ingrained in Elon culture, as all students appear to balance their academics, social lives, and extracurriculars flawlessly. But looking back, I realize that perfection is unattainable. Being in constant search of something that doesn’t exist has dug ourselves into a deeper hole with a more construed definition of what it means to fail.
As you start your own Elon journey, please accept some advice from a senior who has not only gotten a 23 on a literature quiz and who trips on bricks every other day, but one who has embraced failure many times throughout her three years. Attempt to walk into every room fearlessly, knowing that no matter the outcome, whether a success or a failure, personal growth will be a constant. The fear of failure can deter us from even trying in the first place, but if you view every challenge as an opportunity for growth, the fear will subside. Granted, it can be intimidating to put your all into any endeavor, but the ability to take feedback, make mistakes, and learn lessons is worth the effort you make to push through the fear.
Failure is an inevitability of life, so learning how to be resilient within the wake of failure is a tool we can all benefit from. Post-failure, it is good to take time to reflect on the process which lead you to this certain point. By pinpointing decisions and actions, you can give consideration to what could have been done differently to achieve a more desired outcome. Without taking the time to ponder, the failure is just a failure. However, when met with a desire to learn, that failure can be one of your life’s greatest lessons. As Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
One of the greatest ways we can learn is by receiving constructive criticism from others.
It not only shows that you are invested, but that you are willing to grow. Hearing feedback on your failures is never easy, but it allows you to gain other perspectives.
Another thing to keep in mind is that failures should not be hidden. It is so common to be surrounded by perfection, as Generation Z looks towards social media for life inspiration. However, the perfect lives on platforms from Instagram to LinkedIn are created to be perceived as perfect. It is rare that someone highlights their insecurities, struggles or downfalls on their feeds, so why try to attain the perfection that is truthfully unattainable? By coming to this realization, it is not only freeing yourself from the pressure to be perfect, but hopefully will allow you to advocate for other’s imperfections as well.
Phoenix Flops is a resiliency group which embraces failure. I have been fortunate enough to find this place in which I can reflect on my “flops” and find a community who perpetually supports me. Through this organization, lessons such as self-evaluation, asking for feedback and being authentic are promoted. In particular, the Phoenix Flops Instagram @phoenixflops, highlights failures, advocating for imperfections in a seemingly perfect social feed. This can be a little reminder that everyone has their moments of failure. So as you grow throughout your Elon experience, let it be from not just your successes, but your failures as well.