Throw Back Tuesday: Failure will not Define You

I wrote this post more than 4 years ago on an outdated blog from my younger years. I reference the Sochi Olympics beginning, while we have just concluded the subsequent sent of Winter Games in South Korea.

I wanted to share it with all of you because I find myself in a completely different life situation. I have a new role, a new apartment, new experience, yet I still have to remind myself of this mantra: Failure will not define me. And, I think all of you should remember that everyone fails, but it does not mean we are failures. 

Failure will not Define You

January 2014

I have been in a constant state of reflection for the better part of this year, reevaluating my life choices and the path my future holds. Presently, I am a member of Teach for America in Chicago, teaching first grade in an urban school. This is year two of my two-year commitment. It’s the final countdown.  T-minus 5 months. The so-called ‘cakewalk’ has begun. I am simply waiting for June to roll around with no doubts in my mind that I can finish strong.


To my deep shame, that is not the case. I still face amazing challenges every day that lead to restless nights of sleep, filled with a racing mind and/or vivid dreams of the classroom. During the day, I dedicate my heart and soul to my 30 students but come home exhausted and feeling as if I am failing them. It seems like whatever I am doing is not enough. Although I can applaud myself for huge growth in my students last year, this class has proven to be a whole new monster. It is an untamable beast.

The truth is, I feel like a failure altogether. And I am sick of it because it is not a pleasant state of mind.  For the past two days, in particular, I have been letting my worry consume me. It has been eating me from the inside out, leaving an empty hollowness of an unfulfilled soul. I can go on and on about the unhappiness that has taken over, but I won’t. I won’t, I won’t, I won’t. This is because I have realized that every person that has felt this same way (most likely my fellow corps members) needs to focus on this phrase instead: Failure does not define me.

Yes, there may have been moments in which we all have failed, but we are not failures.

Non-Failure Criteria

You are not a failure if…

  • In the face of adversity, we give it everything we have.
  • We laugh about and/or wallow in the situation, then reflect and seek to learn from it to become our best selves.
  • To be trite, we look on the ‘bright side’ and find the positive–whether it be the learning opportunity, a new point of view, or the sharpening of our persistence.

I just have to take a few more moments to discuss Olympic athletes considering the Winter Games in Sochi are set to begin soon and they are the ultimate example of facing failure head on. As I am watching these athletes on TV from the comforts of my warm home, plopped on the couch with my feet up, I can’t help but think about their mindset. I cringe when an ice skater falls during a triple lutz. I shriek when a snowboarder misses a rotation in his or her jump. But I am amazed that they always get back up and keep going. I guess even if I take a tumble down my proverbial ski slope, I need to promise myself to get back up and keep moving. Who knows, maybe I’ll win the gold some day.

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