Embrace failure, learn from adversity

Olivia Atkinson

Art by Jada King

Textbooks lay scattered across the desk as I furiously scribble in the margins of my notebook. Glancing up at the clock on the wall of the library’s silent room, a wave of panic washes over me while I calculate how many more hours I have until midnight to complete this assignment.

As I turn back to my desk, I hear the rattle of ice from boba drinks as a group of students stroll into the room. Frustrated by the distraction, I return to staring at the scrabble of words on my page, desperately trying to recollect my thoughts and focus on the task at hand.

After having completed AP exams and the majority of my tests, I can happily report all my studying paid off. Now that the school year is practically over, we should all give ourselves a pat on the back for making it to the end.

Here is where I could make the typical belabored point that I overburdened myself, and that people shouldn’t take on such strenuous course loads, but I won’t. While that opinion is valid, letting students push themselves is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, confronting adversity can be a valuable lesson.

Yes, students should always prioritize their mental health, that should always come first. However, rather than warn against overburdening, we should change our mindset to embrace failure.

Adolescence is a critical time in our lives not only for experimentation and learning our limits, but for maturing. Students shouldn’t be deterred by low test scores or negative feedback. Instead, we should learn to embrace challenges and learn from our mistakes. 

Although it can be hard to see it in the moment, each push backward that you overcome is a testament to your courage. Persevering through failure is even more impressive than succeeding the first time.

The stakes of high school are relatively low compared to repercussions later in life, so tackling adversity in our youth while we still have a safety net will help strengthen resilience.

In my experience, I’ll be honest and say I had a hefty workload and received my fair share of slaps in the face. However, learning to push through and keep my head above water taught me invaluable lessons such as how to manage my time, study effectively and set boundaries for myself. But above all, it gave me a sense of pride I hadn’t previously experienced. 

It’s the lessons students learn from struggling through problems and working hard, not the scores, that have the most meaning and impact on their future.

It is also important to realize everyone else is facing their own struggles. Some are just better at hiding it than others. We shouldn’t use failure to compare ourselves to others. It manifests itself in all kinds of forms. So be reassured in knowing that what you are experiencing is normal, and you should be proud of yourself for persevering through your hardships.

It’s OK to make mistakes and grow from them, and you shouldn’t be deterred from confronting failure.