College Life: Learning from failure key to self-improvement and growth

By Toni Ann Pennello - [email protected] | November 11th, 2017 6:00 am

There are always plenty of things to be discouraged about.

I see copies of the school newspaper that my staff and I worked tirelessly on being run over in the street. I see the events I and my fellow club members organized being scarcely attended — and the mountain of snacks we purchased going uneaten. Sometimes the people I work with at these organizations snub me when I try to say hello to them on campus.

Sometimes I don’t get the test grade I thought I would. Sometimes I wake up late and don’t make it to Starbucks in time to miss the morning rush.

Those are the kinds of things that can really make you feel like a failure, especially when they start to add up.

Obviously, no one is perfect. But how do people who seem successful deal with small failures? No, really, I’m asking.

I would certainly like to think that the small failures don’t stop, and that it’s an issue of being able to bounce back; that sounds a lot better to me than “Nope, nothing ever goes wrong and everything is fine all the time. What’s the matter with you?”

You know that overused quote from Wayne Gretzky about how “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take?” I like it. I hope to never see the day that it isn’t plastered on a million people’s lock screens.

I would guess that successful people probably fail a lot more than others because they take those shots — and inevitably miss a few.

Also, how can you know whether you’re doing things the right way unless something goes terribly wrong? If you can pinpoint it, that just better equips you in the future.

That’s great and all, but what is everyone else going to think when they see my lonesome self surrounded by wasted snacks in the Student Union Building?

I’ve found that spending too much time thinking about how other people react to my failures very seriously damages my ability to use those failures for a more successful end.

It’s pretty hard to stop doing that, but I think I found my new self-improvement journey.

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By Toni Ann Pennello

[email protected]

Toni Pennello is a Wilkes University senior who works in the Times Leader newsroom.


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