Fail Big

successquote

Well, it’s taken me over a week to write this.  Let me start by saying I’ve never failed a test – ever.

So, when I got my first Trig test back last Wednesday, and I got an F….I went in to shock!  My first thought was, “This grade is out of 60, right?”  No – it’s out of 100.  The professor was going over the answers on the whiteboard, and I could clearly see every sloppy error I made.  Forty-three of them, to be exact.

I was trying with all my might to squash the onslaught of feelings: vulnerability, rawness, insecurity, embarrassment beyond imagination, and the desire to flee the room so I could properly burst into tears.  Instead, I mustered the best iron-clad expressionless-expression I could, and sat there, tortured, for the remaining hour of lecture.  All I could think was – ohmygod, I straight FAILED that test.

In that moment, I remembered a Winston Churchill quote from a recent Instagram post I made, “Success is walking from failure to failure, with no loss of enthusiasm.”  I kept repeating it in my head, the drone of the professor’s lecture in the background…”no loss of enthusiasm…no loss of enthusiasm…”

Walking from failure to failure, with no loss of enthusiasm…can I do that?  This is pretty early on in my new education path to get a smackdown.  Am I ready for this?  Can I really do this?  (Hello, self-doubt, my old friend.)

As I drove home from class, I wondered if I could get away with not telling my husband about this.  Maybe he’d forget that I took exams this week and not inquire about it…which led me to the question, why would I keep this from my best friend/partner in life/husband/person-who-is-supposed-to-love-me-no-matter-what?  Why hide?

But I desperately wanted to hide my failure, from my husband, from my friends and family, from the world.  When I decided to write this blog, I promised myself that I’d include the ups AND downs of this journey.  Well, not this one.  No way.  I’ll skip over this mortifying moment.

This is our human nature.  Share the things that make us look good; hide the things that make us look bad.

Our instinct is to present our best side to others, always.  We want our peers to see our successes, not our messy, behind-the-scenes crap.  Our inner voice says, don’t show that dirty mess to anyone, how shameful; you’ll be judged, unloved, and everyone will know you’re a fraud.

So, I decided, after I was done licking my wounds, I would do the opposite of my instinct.  I would tell you all that I failed.  Big time.  Like a big ol’ F.  It happened!  There you go.

They say we learn more from our failures than from our successes.  When we fall, we have reason to reflect and thoroughly examine what went wrong.  When we succeed, there’s less incentive to take a hard look at what went right.  We just know we won, and move on.

I certainly learned a few lessons from this.  Surprisingly, the main thing I learned had nothing to do with Trigonometry (ok, a little to do with Trig, like, don’t try to work out problems in your head, ha).  It had to do with the experience of sharing your fails with people who love you.

When you can get up the courage to come forward and say, hey, I totally screwed up, I feel like the lowest of the lowest humans right now, the people who love you and root for you will surround you with a boatload of kindness and support.  You can cry about it if needed, and laugh about it later.  They’ll say, this is a bump in the road, not a stop sign.  Gather yourself, and move forward.

Hiding your failures gives the failure power over you.  It says, you should be ashamed; you’re a terrible person.  You aren’t worthy.

Bringing your screw-ups to light diffuses the hold they have on your psyche.  Friends will share stories of their fails, too, that might not have been revealed if you hadn’t had a big F of your own.  Commiserating about our set-backs with each other can deepen our relationships.

Failing sucks; it’s painful.  But, it provides a time of growth, stretching your limits, personal examination, re-evaluation, and recommitting to your goals in the face of adversity.

Without a doubt, this won’t be my only “fall on my face” moment on my path to med school.  I won’t let that deter me, though.  I promise myself to work hard, be prepared, show up and do my absolute best, and continue to move forward, with no loss of enthusiasm.  And, with the support of my loved ones to prop me up, I totally got this.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Fail Big

  1. Seafarer

    Tasha,

    Mission Control, Appolo 13 (April, 1970): ” . . . when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them. We never panicked, and we never gave up on finding a solution.”

    “Never Ever Ever Give Up!” Charlie Brown, while Lucy holds the football.

    “F” is for “Fine.” Mr. B to Michelson student.

    “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” Jack Kerouac

    “Failure is an addiction that some people choose.” Dadsey

    “You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourself
    any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss

    “I never met an “F” I didn’t like.” Dadsey, paraphrasing Will Rogers

    From one of your greatest supporters,
    and prop-you-upper.

    Love,
    Dad

    Like

  2. Michelle

    Hi! I just stumbled on your blog for the first time. I guess “stumbled on” isn’t totally accurate, because I picked up your business card in the lobby of your building one day when I was getting a facial, but it’s accurate in the sense that I randomly decided today to go check out your website and then followed the trail here.

    The thing that prompted me to reply, though, is that I so completely understand this experience and feel compelled to give you some encouraging words, even though I know you’ve already battled your way past this.

    I’d had trouble with college the first time around, but generally was a good-if-not-spectacular student in high school, and had decided to just work for a while to decide what I wanted to do. When I was in my mid-20s I quit my (excellent) job to go back to school and finally get a college degree. I went through all the anxieties, but was settling in. Until my first Calculus test. I was always great at math, and had been doing fine in the class, and yet my first test came back with a giant D on it. A D in math was unheard of for me! My teacher was shocked–although it was the first actual test, he’d gotten to know me enough by then to know that I should have done much, much better.

    It was 100% anxiety. I panicked and freaked myself out enough that I just did horribly. It was so scary!! No one could believe it, let alone me.

    After that, thankfully, I was able to calm down and move to my place at the top of the class, lol.

    In the end, after two years of community college, I not only had great grades, but I also was accepted to Stanford, where I got my BS and also an MA.

    A bad grade isn’t the end of the world (yay!), but it’s definitely a mental hurdle.

    I wish you all the luck with medical school. With your apparent determination, I’m sure you’ll get there! 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Michelle!

      Thank you so much for reading! I so enjoyed reading your comment, and so appreciate the fact that you can empathize, lol 🙂 Yep, that F changed my outlook, but in a good way, too. It made me realize that this is not going to be a cake walk so I needed to pull myself up by the bootstraps and dig in. And, yes, that one bad grade does not mean to stop the journey! Ack, so many lessons when we fail, right? The key is to get up and keep going. I’m so stoked for you and your success at Stanford. Well done indeed! Very inspiring! High fives!

      Well, thank you again. I’m so glad you picked up my card. Have a wonderful night!

      Like

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