Failure is Not Inevitable

It’s been months since I last posted anything. The toxicity of my academics until the end of March and the wave of laziness that comes with the heat of summer resulted in a dry spell for my writing. But I’m back.

And I feel like shit.

The good news: I ran for a position in the executive board of a student organization I’m part of. It was my first time jumping headfirst into something I honestly wasn’t prepared for. The bad: I lost. The worst: I ran unopposed.

So, how could a seemingly perfectly competent college student who’s passionate, dedicated, and committed to this particular organization lose despite running unopposed? The answer, after putting much thought into it, is simple – I wasn’t good enough.

While this may seem like the (slightly) depressed part of me thinking negatively, the more rational part of my brain would simply have to agree. I just wasn’t good enough. Yes, I prepared a fairly decent General Plan of Action (GPOA) and consulted with the other members on how to best address the issues faced by the department I was running for, but what killed my chance at winning was the convocations. After mumbling my way through my GPOA presentation, the panel (consisting of senior members of the org) started asking me questions. The first one was, “What is your target number of raises?” My answer was “I don’t have one.”

It went downhill from there. I was asked for “conversion rates”, and I confidently proclaimed that “I don’t have those numbers with me.” I was asked for a timeline of activities, and I spontaneously generated a bunch of crap that would make anyone of a multitude of cramming college students’ jaws drop in awe.

I knew the moment it was over that I was done. I could feel the sadness, or perhaps disappointment, that the other (thankfully very few) people in the room felt for me. I wanted to go home and cry.

A few days passed and I began to mistakenly think the panel would give me this position. I fooled myself into thinking that after the incoherent, clueless mess of myself that I had shown them earlier, they would remain encouraged to give me their vote of confidence.

Of course, I was wrong. And in an election decided by 30% of our org members’ votes and 70% (SEVENTY PERCENT) of the panel’s judgment, I lost. My immediate reaction was sadness, immediately followed by anger. Anger at myself for not being good enough. Anger at my mind for not thinking of crunching those numbers or setting those goals beforehand. And while it would be more comforting for me to put the blame on someone else, anyone else, apart from myself, that simply isn’t right. It’s not my orgmates’ fault for supporting my campaign. It’s not the panel’s fault for not being sufficiently impressed by me. It’s mine. The fault is solely mine.

But you know what, it’s okay. While accepting failure never gets any easier (at least, it hasn’t for me yet), learning from it does. And the lesson I get from this addition to the long list of failures in my life is that when you think you’ve done good enough, you have to do even harder. An extra hour or two of research and consultation for my GPOA, or an extra run-through of my presentation could have been all it took to make me Vice President of our org by now. But I didn’t bother doing those things for a number of reasons. I became overconfident because I was running unopposed. I was too lazy to ask more questions. I was too shy to approach people from other universities.

A second round of applications were opened for the same position I ran for and I still have the option to apply again. While writing this has certainly reignited my wanting to run, I don’t think I’m ready to lose two elections in a row.

How about you? What failures have you experienced in life, and what lesson did you derive from them?



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