Anita was walking down the boulevard blithely. She was holding her English notebook which was replete with remarks in red like “You are incorrigible,” “There is a difference between SUN and SON,” “Hopeless!”. She had failed the test and despite of such demeaning and harsh words, there wasn’t a tinge of despondence on her radiant face. Her smile was still as cheerful as ever and the spark in her beautiful jet black eyes was looking forward to a happy and positive day.
The class began and the teacher had decided to reward those who had scored the maximum marks in the test. So she called out a few names and gave those children chocolate bars while the others were told to just clap for the ‘achievers’. While the ‘achievers’ were busy in rejoicing in their happiness, little Anita was engrossed in her painting. With a few oil colors and sketch pens, she was trying to create a garden of happiness to reflect the atmosphere of celebration in her class. But there was a difference. In her painting, everyone was rewarded with chocolate bars and everyone was an achiever.
Isn’t our society just like Anita’s classroom? Since our childhood days, we’ve been made to believe that winners get the rewards and losers are ostracized. As time passes by, chocolate bars are replaced by money and fame as they become the parameters of judging a person’s success. We’ve been taught that failure is a monster that lurks in the dark to attack his prey and the only way to defeat this monster is to be successful! But is failure indeed a monster? The mere thought of failing shatters us and we embark on a rat-race of proving our worth, proving that we are winners and not losers.
How many of us think like Anita? How many of us embrace optimism in the midst of challenging times? The world is certainly a wonderful place but there are times when even the people who are closest to you and know you the best will discourage you from trying again. Words like “It just wasn’t meant to be,”, “You wouldn’t have failed if you were so good!” often dampen our motivation to try again and ultimately we choose to give up by believing what others want us to believe. But, for a moment embrace failure as your best friend and you will be surprised to see that it is not a monster but your greatest teacher for it highlights your shortcomings and lets you explore new routes to achieve your goals.
If you still think you are nothing but a loser and shouldn’t waste your time in trying again, read the failure stories of the following five people who decided to see failure as a new path rather than a dead end.
1. Bethany Hamilton
Bethany Hamilton has become a source of inspiration to millions through her story of faith, determination, and hope. She was born into a family of surfers and started surfing at the age of 8. On October 31, 2003, at the age of 13, Bethany was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm. Though she was devastated at first, she decided to buck up and keep moving towards her dream of becoming a professional surfer. She returned back to the waves just one month after her attack and a year later she took 1st place in the Explorer Women’s division of the 2005 NSSA National Championships – winning her first National Title.
If Bethany could realize her dream of becoming a professional surfer with a severed arm, what’s stopping you from achieving yours?
2. Albert Einstein
Einstein didn’t have a great childhood either. Throughout elementary school, many of his teachers thought he was lazy and wouldn’t make anything of himself. It is said that he was engrossed in his own world and often asked abstract questions that people failed to understand. But he didn’t let the opinions of others deter him from thinking and being different!
3. Thomas Edison
We all know Thomas Edison as the man who created light bulb but many are oblivious to the fact that he failed around 10,000 times before he successfully created the light bulb. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” was Edison’s response to his repeated failures. So the next time you don’t do well in your task, remember that you haven’t lost but realized what doesn’t work!
4. Vincent Van Gogh
This amazing man was poor but was blessed with an unwavering dedication that helped him to paint 900 works of art without money. Though he sold only one painting during his lifetime i.e. “The Red Vineyard at Arles”, he is today considered one of the greatest artists of all time. His talent went unnoticed when he was alive, but his story teaches us to be proud of our talents, even if others fail to acknowledge them.
5. Steven Spielberg
The man behind the masterpieces like “Jurassic Park,” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” “E.T.” “Schindler’s List,” and “Saving Private Ryan” was rejected by the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinema Arts twice because an admissions officer deemed his C level grade average too low. Despite of being rejected, he got up each morning and used to send letters to the university as he believed the university could help him improve his skills.
Spielberg loved films! He never wanted to get rich or famous or chit-chat with famous celebrities but just create great films. Did he give up his passion just because the university closed its doors for him? No, in fact he pushed it further and years later, he became a trustee of the university once he gained his success.
We all have some similar passions. There will be times when you’ll fail or get rejected. But that shouldn’t stop you from moving on! Remember, the society believed that the dreams of all these people were “unrealistic”. When people call you “unrealistic” it means you are thinking out-of-the-box. So don’t let the “realistic” thinkers reel you back in and never let go of the passion that burns in your hearts.
Life is all about choices and you have to decide what is going to be yours.