Conquering fear of failure

Victor Yang, Staff writer

Failure coupled with success, a combination perhaps only bested by PB & J. The reason? It’s inspirational. Seeing Chris Gardner get rich at the end of “The Pursuit of Happyness” or marveling at a broken Bruce Wayne climbing out of a 50-foot pit in “The Dark Knight Rises” is both motivational and comforting.
It makes us feel that no matter how astronomical the failure, it only takes a little bit of elbow grease and maybe a hyped-up montage to bounce right back and succeed.
Shockingly, real-life isn’t like the movies. Films can’t capture the I-just-got-smashed-in-the-stomach-by-a-cinder-block feeling that failure creates. They also can’t truly depict the amount of hard-work and dedication required to recover, no matter how awesome the montage is.
I’ve seen my favorite characters fall and get back up countless times, but I never truly understood the magnitude of their feats until I was face-to-face with soul-crushing failure itself—without any popcorn.
Junior year was built as the most important year of my high school career. The one where I needed to fire up all cylinders before cruising along on the lazy river of senior year. Things never seem to go as planned, and I ended up with a big fat D in calculus on my second quarter report card.
Realizing that I had failed a quarter felt like someone had curb-stomped my soul. It was my first academic failure, and as I stared at the 68 percent on my score report, I promised myself it would be my last.
But the reason I was so determined wasn’t because I was angry at the D itself — I had deserved that. It wasn’t a case of Pavlov’s Dog: High School Student Edition, either. I wasn’t motivated by the judgement of peers or the plethora of punishments my mom would dish out if I ended the year with anything below a B.
The reason was that I knew I could succeed if I only pushed myself. So, I spent an extra hour or two on homework each night, asked more questions in class and cut back on the comeback movies so that I could make my own rebound possible. And by the end of the year, I did. I was proud of my low B, because I had earned it.
But the true value from this bout with failure wasn’t a letter higher up in the alphabet on a piece of paper. It was the epiphany I had about what was truly needed to succeed. Hard work. A motivation to do the best I could regardless of the situation.
After the year was over, my mindset had changed. My way of thinking went from working half-measured for what others deemed satisfactory to working at maximum effort to meet my own standards. It has spread into all aspects of my life, including working and exercising, and is the reason that my first quarter of senior year has been the best one yet.
While my story may not be as impressive as becoming a millionaire from nothing or performing incredible physical feats, it’s enough for me to finally understand what it means to fall and get back up stronger than before. It only took a few dozen movies and a couple failed calculus tests to realize it.