First things first: A big thanks goes to Stephanie Bowyer for getting me thinking about this again.

I’m a perfectionist. I hate the thought of failure and I’m willing to work quite hard to avoid it. Succeeding has many benefits of course, but I started thinking that I’m missing out a little bit by avoiding failure like a plague. It’s not always a bad thing. It has the ability to teach us things that we never would have learned except by going through the school of hard knocks.

One of the biggest problems I’ve had with failure is that, like I said, I’m a perfectionist. I hate to fail, and I’m afraid of failing. Now I don’t think I’m alone in being afraid of failure, it’s a weakness that many of us need to work on. During the past semester I started discovering that it’s very beneficial to stop fearing academic failure in particular.

Finals can be a nerve-wracking time for students. They used to be for me, until I decided to stop worrying about them because I realized worrying wasn’t doing any good. You might as well relax about finals because the results aren’t going to be any better when you’re stressed out. In fact, they’ll probably turn out worse if you’re sweating it, and not just because it’s hard to hold a pencil with sweaty hands.

When finals came around this year, I had essays to submit in every single class. I wanted them all to be perfect too. But perfection wasn’t an option because I just didn’t have the time. So I submitted what I very well knew were not perfect papers, but I didn’t keep worrying about it, because once they were submitted, there was nothing I could do to change the outcome anyway.

The most important way to defeat failure is to learn how to cope with it. Stop fearing it and you’ve already taken care of one of the biggest problems with failure. If you don’t feel failure, all you have to do is pick up the pieces and start learning. Maybe by failing you’ll learn something that you never would have learned otherwise.

What valuable failures have you experienced and what have they taught you?