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How I deal with failure

by Rida Warsi

Recently I have been on sort of a losing streak (or at least it feels like one).

I attended a service project in Toronto for the first time where we came up with solutions for various social issues. My team placed second last. I knew that I was inexperienced going into it, and I was not expecting to win. I knew that I just wanted the learning experience, yet I still felt defeated and disappointed.

Another experience of disappointment awaited me in the same week when I did not obtain a volunteer position I was hoping for. I waited until the end of the day, hoping my phone would light up with an email, but it never came. I knew that selection was first, come first serve rather than merit-based, and that they had to reserve many of the spots for other college students who required the positions in order to complete their internships. Nonetheless, my feelings of disappointment and defeat persisted.

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I tried to understand why I felt the way I did so that I could come to terms with it. I realized that my disappointment lied within the future, the future that I looked forward to and visualized had I won the competition or obtained the volunteer position. I was disheartened with my experiences and felt as if I must have been doing something wrong or that there was something I was lacking.

However, while my feelings of disappointment and regret made sense, I later realized that I was approaching my experiences discouragingly. Failure is inevitable. I am going to fail. It is a condition that I am accepting myself to every time I submit an application for something, attend a competitive event, or put myself out there. That does not mean I should not try again.

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This might sound sort of cliché, but I believe it is more important to get up after your defeats and try again than to just succeed in the first place. There is a lot to learn in failure and I will benefit more in my defeats than I ever will in my success. There is a reason why in job interviews one of the most common questions is, “how did you deal with workplace conflict?” The employers do not expect things to be smooth sailing at all times. They want to see how you respond to conflict and failure. Similarly, it is important to learn how to deal with failure and rejection so that you learn how to respond to it. You cannot expect to achieve everything you set out for the first time around - strive to be better the second (or maybe even third) time around. It can take several failures before even one experience of success, and each of those failures is a chance to try again, and to try better.

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