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Toronto, Canada

312 Adelaide Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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Why Failure is Necessary

Written by Rachel Wong

Here’s the scene.

For one month, your world is turned upside down in an attempt to write a 1,500 word report on a novel you didn’t really understand. Now, one month later, the reports are marked. Cheers and groans echo all around you. You smile, but anxiety burns within you. Suddenly, your teacher appears at your desk. Your sleepless nights, skipped social functions, and crazy work schedule has amounted to this. Your report now sits on your desk.

Flipping it over, a million emotions hit you at once. A blaring C- stares back at you.


Your eyes dart in disbelief between your report and your teacher. For the first time in, well, forever, you received the lowest mark you have ever gotten.

Sounds familiar?

As a student who is heading to Simon Fraser University this September, the above scenario represents not just a dramatized retelling of my first C- but also my overall presumption that failure was bad. In high school my friends always teased me for being a perfectionist, something I still affectionately call myself to this day. I was the poster child for anti-failure.

“I was the poster child for anti-failure.”

So when this happened, you could probably imagine their surprise when they found out that Rachel Wong got a C- on her report. After weeks of nightmares and depression, I told myself that from that moment on, I would never go below a C in anything I did. I would always go above and beyond and win.

The bold task of achieving straight A’s and winning everything ultimately failed. I have gone below an A and have received C’s (and even a couple F’s, too). Other failures include not winning this scholarship or that contest, or failing to impress my guy du jour. I began to see that failing was a natural part of life. Without failure, success would not exist!

Unfortunately, students of today are faced with the never ending pressure of perfection. It wasn’t until I received my first C- that I saw the world differently.

Failure Isn’t All Bad

Now, I’m not saying that failure should be your new best friend. If you are content with 50% on every assignment, you may need to re-evaluate your priorities and work habits. Failure isn’t something to be ashamed of; rather, we should use it to teach us lessons that we typically are afraid of facing.

“Failure isn’t something to be ashamed of. Rather, we should use it to teach us lessons we are afraid of facing.”

Use your failures as wake-up calls rather than stumbling blocks.

In the end, our success won’t be measured in how many A’s, scholarships or dates we receive. Ralph Emerson Waldo once said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” If we choose to learn from our failures rather than wallow in them, our successes in life will increase exponentially.

And that, my friends, is the ironic beauty of failure.

Photo courtesy: Bamblesquatch

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.