Confessions of a Failed One (and How to Deal with Failure)

I have failed. Again. At the same thing.

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I still have a long way to go until I reach Thomas Edison’s personal record of 10,000 times of not succeeding, though (that always encourages me).

First, you should know that by writing this post I don’t want to earn your compassion, ask for help and support or complain about my problems. I simply don’t want anyone else to feel like I did this day, and many other days as well.

I want you to understand failure, see its real purpose, learn from it and even benefit from it. Being prepared for the consequences will help you avoid disappointment and other unpleasant emotions that go with it.

I’m talking about my exam. It may sound like a shallow thing to some of you and not at all important, but keep in mind that no matter what it refers to, the feeling of being failed is the same.

Overwhelming, burning…

Here is a little overview of the situation:

I study Marketing. And before I have the chance to get familiar with Marketing Research, Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior and other interesting to me topics that are important to my subject and I will actually use in real life someday, I need to deal with other things like Statistics and Financial Accountancy.

They are general studies I need to know as Marketing is an economical subject.

The problem I had was with Financial Accountancy – a not so pleasant thing to learn. I realize that it is one of the most important economic activities, no enterprise would make any proper business without it and that nowadays economy would be unthinkable without it, but it all comes down to how interesting a subject is and whether you find any motivation to sit down and learn a whole textbook of theory and be able to solve all kinds of problems.

I did well on other exams – Micro- and Macroeconomics, Higher Mathematics and others – by putting up with an unpleasant subject, trying to get its essence, devoting many hours of studying, giving up my free time and other things I love. This is how I proceeded to prepare for the exam in Financial Accountancy as well.

I didn’t pass it.

Then for the second chance I had to do it (This is how our educational system works, but don’t take this as a reason to consider it weak. Quite the contrary, it is difficult.) I prepared even better. I devoted even more time and energy, stayed focused only on that, tried to find many sources of motivation to keep me going, took a few private lessons, prepared mentally (that was actually the hardest thing of all – I had to remind myself constantly that it’s all worth it, to try to think positively and delete the picture in my head of not passing the exam). I didn’t listen to all the negative people around me and did my best.

And yet, I failed.

The morning before the exam I was enthusiastic and looking forward to it as I felt confident in my knowledge and understanding of the subject. Throughout the exam I did well.

While I was waiting to hear the results, I was happy and awaiting the great relief I would feel after I hear my mark.

And yet, I failed.

Many factors may have led to that. But here I am – having disappointed my parents again by not passing the exam for a second time. It makes me feel bad. I feel like crying. But what I do?

By Jane Rahman @Flickr

A few ideas stepped into my mind right away – to give up on my education because it’s just not for me; to just go to my room, cry my eyes out, be alone and stay there for days; to act like a victim in front of my relatives and friends and blame the professor, university, educational system, etc.

Maybe some other time.

Here I am on the way back to my home town (I just traveled to the city I study in for the exam.), writing on the bus.

Writing about failure, confessing my feelings and wishing to help others not to feel like that, and to be prepared if they do.

People are actually staring at me now. They wonder what I’m doing, being so concentrated. It’s not a very comfortable place to write either ( as I’m using a pen and a sheet). But that doesn’t bother me. I need to do it now – while the feeling is fresh.

And, to be honest, I’m helping myself even more. It’s healing. It takes a heavy weight off my shoulders.

I just did a few very important things – accepted my failure, understood it, analyzed it, learnt from it, found its benefits – and I want you to be able to do them too.

They are a result of a lot of mental work, affirmations, a change of the perspective.

Here are a few key things to know (they may refer to everything and everyone):

  • This has happened for a reason – I need to draw a lesson from it.
  • Things don’t always go according to plan but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect them to turn out for the best next time you give it a try.
  • It makes you stronger, wiser, more experienced.
  • It means you have done something , you have tried. And it goes without saying that you did more that many others, who can’t find the power and motivation to take action.
  • You are a step closer to succeeding now.
  • This is a great chance to try to understand failure, accept it and move on.Β  This is a big challenge!
  • Be grateful – it may sound weird to some of you but appreciation plays a huge role even when it comes down to failure. The moment I failed, I took a deep breath and thanked for it (it’s hard to do it and resist the urge to start complaining, feeling bad about yourself, losing hope for future achievements, etc.). And only this little thing made me feel better.

I fail at other things too – getting up early, eating healthy, working out regularly, being kind to the people around me and not getting angry with them…

But I accept it. Let it go. And move on.

What things do you fail at? How do you feel after that?

Lidiya K

Lidiya K

Author, blogger and podcaster in the fields of self-improvement and life hacking. Creator of Let's Reach Success.
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
Lidiya K

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  1. 2 down, 9,998 to go…no problem!
    Seriously, I’m quite sure it won’t take you that long to pass. You’re already on the way to success because the most pure success is reached by epic failures! Laugh, embrace, and keep trucking Lidiya! You’re getting there. πŸ˜‰

  2. Thanks for such inspirational words…I must say your words will give me necessary push to achieve my goals. Have a positive mindset and aim for your goals. Thats the only way we can fight the odds.

    Best of luck

  3. A great post on the value of failure and the ability to reflect on failing fast – well done on your boldness on putting this out there.

  4. Stop being so hard on yourself. You tried so you succeeded. It’s just a test and you can take it again. You are not a failure by any means. You are smart and creative. Good job in taking tests, I have failed at so many things but the more risks and trying I do inevitably will bring more failure. So what if its a failure try again or adjust your direction. And if you take the tests again you already know what to expect and you will pass. Keep up the good work and wonderful words.

  5. We once had a customer-friend, who was trying to become an insurance broker in her state, and she failed the test twice, before asking us if she should take it again.

    We encouraged her to keep taking it, and she failed the same test 6 more times, for a total of 8 failures, but lo and behold, on the ninth try, she passed, and got her state insurance broker’s license.

    So, don’t worry, just take it again, and again, until you pass. It could be that you had the answers right, but you accidentally skipped filling in one little circle with the pencil, and that made all of your correct answers fall into the boxes of the wrong questions, who knows?

    You will be fine, because you have the right attitude!

    1. Thank you so much for the support! That story is so encouraging!
      Actually it wasn’t a test. The exam consists of a theoretical part – the professor just says a theme from all we’ve learnt during the semester, and the second part is a problem we need to solve. I did the first one good – I wrote much on that, and part of the second. And I was sure that it was enough to pass it. Unfortunately at some subjects I don’t even aim at a high mark anymore. Anyways, it’s more of a decision the professor has to take.
      Thanks again for the comment. It was helpful.

      1. Maybe the professor did you a favor, and now you will have to study some more, and try harder next time, but it will be worth it in the long run!

        I know you’re intelligent, as am I, and just because we’re beautiful, does not have to mean we cannot excel at academic things!

        You go, Girl, you’re still a Rock Star!

          1. I am glad! We all need to have someone else make us feel better, now and then, and YOU deserve the encouragement.

            Plus, I can relate to how you must sometimes feel, because I am very tiny, petite, and beautiful, but people sometimes forget that I am a human being with a brain, a personality, and confidence… so, I often remind them when they make comments or gestures that are inappropriate, which is more often than I care to deal with.

            Judging by your photo, you are also considered to be sexy and attractive, by many, and hence, there are probably a lot of people, mostly men, who forget that you also have those qualities I spoke of, so we’re in the same proverbial boat.

            YOU are doing fantastic, and just keep moving forward, and never take any crap from anyone!

          2. Beautiful words. Thanks again! That really motivates me to continue to chase my dreams and goals.
            Wish you all the best and to always keep that power, focus and belief you now have.

          3. I will, and YOU do the same! Never give up on your dreams and your goals, and if you ever lose your compass, I am always around to help you find your way back. You are a sweet, gentle soul, and you deserve all the blessings of the heavens!
            xoxoxo

          4. You are welcome, Sweetie! Now keep smiling and enjoy your day! No more tears!

  6. awesomely brave of you to discuss your hardship here. your self-awareness and honesty is in and of itself a success! πŸ™‚

        1. Yes, but I’ve decided to keep it only for some close friends, and don’t use it that much.
          I hope you won’t take it personal. I do want to keep in touch with you and the other bloggers I made friends with.
          You can always find me here and on Twitter. Actually more often that on Fb πŸ˜€

  7. Since you did well on your other subjects, I’m sure that Financial Accountancy is just your Achilles’ heel or your Mount Everest. But once you pass that test, everything would seem easier and you’ll graduate a Marketing genius. So cheer up! Just brace yourself for the ride. You asked what your readers failed at? I suck at driving. I actually haven’t got my license yet and I’m already turning 26. My spatial skills are poor and I used to have no guts but now, I’m aiming to learn this year. I just have to accept that I may be good at conceptualizing, my motor and spatial skills are awry at best. πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks for sharing that info. I got my license 3 years ago but haven’t used it since then.
      But I believe you can handle that. There’s always the chance of not driving, depending on your lifestyle. Maybe you don’t even need to become a driver.
      Good luck with that anyways.

  8. As always, a good personal story. Thanks for opening up about your frustration. I’m warmed to read that you ultimately got around to acknowledging “…a few key things to know.” That’s from where the value in these experiences comes. IMHO, an ability to embrace failure is key. It gives us permission and strength to continue growing.

    To some of the earlier comments, I’ll echo and encourage, consider focusing on and appreciating the (undesired) outcome right out of the gate. Sure it’s important to be in touch with your emotions yet not to the point where they drain and shift our focus to the downside. There’s always upside and it’s within that sphere that we can exercise resilience and choose to boldly move on. You’ve already rebounded. Good on you!!

    To your question: I fail at brevity and being succinct. Obvious, huh? πŸ™‚ When I get long-winded, I merely chalk it up to being who I am. And I embrace that, too.

  9. I failed most of my exams this semester multiple times, for various reasons. Got me really down but I reached out to a friend and she helped me through it and helped me study. I dealt with failure the same way I deal my back pain, through gritted teeth and sheer determination. I focus on things I enjoy doing, like writing and searching to recouperate. : )

  10. Thank you for this story. I failed this morning and I am in the process of working through it and trying to figure out what I should learn from it. . . quitting is always easier, but learning from it will help. Thank you for this, in making sure that I am not alone in failure, that it is just a part of life instead of just a part of me being worthless. I hope be both find the strength the stride confidently into the future!

  11. Wisdom such as you possess is not easy to come by. It took me a lot of pain and many years to become determined enough not to be put off by my failures. I believe the greatest lessons in life are taught by failure and the value of those lessons always seems to be greater than those learned by success. No matter how many times you fail, so long as you don’t give up, you will achieve success and it will be all the sweeter for the attempt.

  12. Just finished my post about my day of failure, being inspired by yours, I mentioned your post and linked it, I hope you don’t mind, but I feel that people need as much inspiration as they can get.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I’m glad my post inspired you to write yours. Keep up the good work and never let failure get on your way!

  13. Blessings Lidiya,

    Awesome post, great way to get something off your chest. Failure strengthens character, it’s what you learn from it that counts. I know how you feel, I went to college just to play ball and my advisor said I had to major in something while I was going to school. Guess what I chose, Accounting, so I know how you feel. Keep your head up and pressing forward.

  14. I completely understand what you are going through. I have a postgraduate degree in marketing. I always found subjects like accountancy, statistics very tough and did not do well in them. I was good at marketing, organizational behavior, communication and economics.

    Failing does not mean anything. It is okay to be not good at something. What you should focus on is discovering what you really love to do. As far as this specific exam goes, try talking to your professor and take tips to improve your preparation process. One tip is figure out the important parts in your course and spend 70% of your time on those. Do some smart studying rather than focusing on each and every thing equally.

    Do not stress too much. Just look at it objectively. It is just a small pebble in your way. πŸ™‚

  15. Dear Lidiya,
    I appreciate that you beautifully described the details of how you felt after facing (what you consider as) a ‘failure’. When I think back of what you have taught us in your blog, I cannot completely see failing an exam as a ‘real’ failure. The feeling of not achieving what you were longing for is a real life test designed for you that beautifully challenges your abilities to deal with more demanding issues, such as overcoming your emotions and gaining a better control of yourself. Be wise and decide wisely πŸ™‚ It is of course hard and it should be! Otherwise, we will never learn. It is so hard to teach real lessons to ourselves. We are bad teachers when left to ourselves. But the incidents of the real world that happen to us are the greatest teachers of us.

    Let me share my respective based on what I believe. (you may disagree but there might still be points you may find useful.) Since I believe in Lord, I think this is His plan to provide the opportunity to progress by learning about our weaknesses and strengths better and finding the way to proceed and prosper. See it as an opportunity. Do not think the exam is over. The real exam is still there, in all scenes. It is sometimes hard and sometimes easy but it is there. In such situations you need to have a great support; the greatest support is belief in Him. This means that you always do your best and use the best of your abilities, your mind, your heart, listen to ones who can give you good advice, refresh, self-motivate and all the good ways that you know probably better than me and teach us here. Once you feel like you did all you could, then depend on Him, who has got all the knowledge and full control over everything and ask Him to help you succeed, ask Him for what is best for you to happen, the best outcome in a full sense. Then, regardless of apparent failure or success, you will always move in a progressive direction by winning His support which is the real success πŸ™‚

    I am sure you can do well and there is no reason to think you cannot. Do not judge how badly the world will look like after you lose one scene. There will be opportunities of success on your way, not probably your way πŸ™‚

    Feel happy and Cheer up as you read this line : )

    1. Thank you for commenting and sorry for the late answer. I haven’t been online for 2 months but I’m back now.
      Your words really made me smile. Such positivity and honesty. I appreciate it.

  16. Great post, even though it was about a painful topic. I’m sorry you didn’t pass the exam. I know how it feels to fail. As a writer, I “fail” all the time every time an article or story is rejected. And believe me, it happens a lot! I use many of the tips you suggest and they are very helpful. Because trying to do something hard is just that. Hard! So I reward myself for trying even if I fail by doing something nice for myself, like taking a long bubble bath or a long nature walk. Sounds like you need a pick-me-up. If Monsters University is playing near you, you might want to go see it since it deals with the theme of failure and perseverance. Good luck and keep trying!

  17. Failures are always sure way to be successful in life ya know? Personally I have been experiencing different kinds of failures at different arenas of life, Lidiya. It’s a matter of fact that they are all a part of my life and I should have to accept them in the right sense for the generaton of a good output later. This is really an interesting game which we can play with the universe where twists may happen at any moment of time. Great reminder cum motivational piece of share about failures, dear one. Keep up the good work. Have a good Sunday. Cheers.m/ πŸ™‚

    Rahul

  18. You’ve handled this minor blip well, in the grand scheme of things it is a minor thing and I’m sure you’ll go on to pass it. Keep this thought in your head “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

  19. The feeling of failure is the worst. I hate failure – but you’ve made it seem like every negative has a positive. It’s nice to read that instead of getting down about it -you’re taking action. Very inspiring.
    I generally don’t deal that well with failure or rejection, so this article has been very helpful to me. Thank you for writing it – I’ll be returning to this on results day if I haven’t done so well πŸ™‚

    1. I’m glad it helped you. I felt so much better after writing it. Actually sometimes I realize certain things while I’m writing about them, that’s why this is my therapy in life. πŸ™‚

  20. Thank you for sharing your story, it is never easy to admit you failed at something. It takes courage to keep trying, and that is how you inspire others.
    Failure is only bad if you never learn from it and you let it consume you, which clearly you have learned and are moving on so good job.

  21. I’ve tried to post on here but I don’t see that it went through. I put up my first post

  22. Things happen for a reason.. failure can occur in so many aspects of life, not just studies. Relationships, work, health..etc. As far as myself, I’m by nature a very positive person, but very sensitive and a little emotional. I can tell you this year since January, it has been one the lowest years in my whole life… I’m talking about relationship and professional wise. But I allowed myself a few months of mourning and finally decided to “get up” and move on. I put my mind to work and learned a new skill “online marketing”, it has taken me 2 1/2 months, haven’t fixed my relationship yet, but I’m about to go to the highest “high” I’ve had in my whole life. Why? I have always had hope and never gave up on anything. To achieve what you want in this life you have to be positive, have hope and always be persistent in everything you do. Of course, a “little” bit of luck will help too. But I promise if you keep trying, you’ll be very successful πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for that comment! It’s so inspiring and absolutely true. I love it how people become so much better in everything after a period of mourning.

      1. Yes, it takes time. But time really heals everything. I posted an article in my blog about I posted an article in one of my blogs regarding Transforming Emotional Stress To Emotional Strength. So that’s what I’m doing now.

  23. I’m so glad I stumbled across this. I have a total phobia of math and anything math-related, so I give you props for attempting something that’s so difficult. I am juuuust starting my college at age 27 and trying to break into freelance writing. The rejection is so tough, it’s hard to stay positive.

    You should watch “Elizabethtown” if you haven’t already. Great movie about success/failure and a few other interesting themes. x

    1. Thank you for reading it and commenting. I’m sure you’ll give your best in studying and everything will work out. Just keep your head up and always think positively πŸ™‚ .

  24. I love this quote…. “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Anyways, I enjoyed the post!
    Michael Jordan

  25. If this post is not an inspiration, what is it? πŸ™‚
    I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Please get the badge at http://wp.me/s32YrK-sparks and get more info. Please continue the inspirations coming. Have a nice day.

  26. I’m with you on this one, Lidiya. I’ve been failing my job exams for the last two years! Now I just enjoy my every failure with great glory. Let’s keep striving harder. πŸ™‚

  27. I love your positivity. I am not good with figures and I can’t say that I am that interested in them but because I am starting my own two businesses I know that I am going to have to improve. I didn’t realise that a marketing course would involve much working with figures, just creativity, shows what I know. Congratulations for trying hard and making a good effort. Keep smiling and new opportunities will come your way. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Thank you for sharing, I know it is hard to admit failure but I am glad that you are going to keep trying. I have to remind myself that as long as I do my best then I can be happy with the results, even if I fail.
    I wish you luck on your next attempt.

    1. I passed it! Thanks for the support. I’m happy to see that many readers actually care about me without even knowing me. That’s what I love most in blogging.

  29. Hey, hang in there. You remind me of my college freshman/sophomore years. I went through a similar feeling. Not succeeding despite working hard. It took me a while until I figured out how to take tests better.

  30. Wow, that is really a tough situation. However, I think you are right to focus on this: “This has happened for a reason – I need to draw a lesson from it.” Either the way you are studying or the way you are writing tests needs to be looked at. I try to figure out how to help my own kids study and the thing that I can never figure out is this: a person must know WHILE he/she is studying which parts (s)he does not understand well enough to blurt out under exam pressure, so you should be able to work those over until you “get” them completely, right?

    I mean, you don’t just read the material absent-mindedly; you are checking your retention the whole time and adjusting your technique. Well, there are lots of options. You can also go part-time in many cases, so that you can really focus on just the course(s) that you find really difficult and make certain that you ace them. Sometimes I feel that my kids are satisfied with the concept of a “pass” whereas if they were thinking of knowing “all” of the material perfectly, then they would be less disappointed on tests.

    I wrote a lot of exams in my academic days, so I really wish you the best. You’ll get there. I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s not failures that limit you, but how you respond to them!

    1. Thank you so much for being supportive! I know everything will be alright but felt so bad the moment it happened that I needed to write about it. Your strategy about studying sounds good. Thanks again! Take care!

  31. I agree up to a point. In life, it is not the smartest people who are the most successful. It is the people who figure something out about the way the world works. They take the knowledge and run with it. They do not accept no for an answer. Fail, Fail, Fail and Fail, learn from those failures and succeed. I’ve failed more times than I care to remember. But you never really fail until you stop getting up.

  32. Failure is such a horrible word. It is a word that is used as a weapon, that can be swung like a bat to crush your spirit. It makes people feel inadequate among their peers.
    Just keep in mind that the only person you have to impress is you, the only standards you have to live up to are yours and the only one you have to answer to is you.

    1. Thank you for the support. I sure do know that but sometimes I have doubts. I’m trying to stay strong though and am definitely working on my mindset.

  33. I stumbled across this today….it was something I needed to read. Do you think the same things apply to personal behaviors and habits we are trying to break?

    1. Thank you for taking time to read my post. I sure do! These are like unwritten rules for everything in life and I believe everyone will be doing better if he follows them.

  34. You know I really struggled with failure & not being exactly where i want to be at this point in my life, but im here & darn it that has to count for something! Been exposed to alot of Brene Brown recently & i love the quote she uses from Theodore Roosevelt about the man in the arena, atleast im still in the fight, im not giving up, I just have to dust myself off & keep trying again. great blog post, thx for sharing.

  35. I fail at Physics. That is one crappy subject. We just keep working on improving it and new problems keep arising. It seems like a never ending cycle btw you are good at what you are doing. That’s my way of saying things.

  36. When I fail at something I usually just wallow for a while and then move on from there. I always give myself a short time to grieve and feel sorry for myself, and then after I’m done with that I do my best to come up with solutions to comfort myself… and to succeed the next time.

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