Failure is a WRONG WAY sign


Ever see those signs on the highway that tell you you’re going the wrong way? They are clearly marked like this one. Bright red with white text, ensuring that you won’t miss it.

Don’t you wish you had someone to just walk right up to you and say – hey buddy, you’re going in the wrong direction! Stop! whenever things seem like you’re swimming up stream? I guess life is just a bit more subtle than that.

Or is it?

If I reflect on my time spent in school as a whole, I had a few signs which were telling me right off the bat that I was going in the wrong direction. Unfortunately for me, I was too scared to admit that I could actually fail at something (what? me? fail??) and too stubborn to let go of what I thought was meant for me (because I know better right? 😉 ).

There is a distinct memory from my first year of university. A bit of background: I was determined to become a research scientist. I had held on to this dream, ever since elementary school so there was no way in hell I was going to give it up now.

I was a fairly good student; made honour roll a few times in high school but I was consistently weak in science and math. You would think that that would have been enough for me to say – okay this isn’t going to work if I want to be a research scientist. But no, my stubborn-ness got the best of me.

I took biology in university. My first semester of biology was tough; in fact it was recommended that I take a few classes BEFORE starting the year because my grades weren’t very strong in math and science. Of course, I told myself – I’m following my dream, there’s no worry, I will be just fine, I don’t need to take those classes.

Needless to say, from the girl that never failed at anything (well besides RED in swimming class but that’s a different story) I got my first F ever in physics.

F? I’ve never seen that part of the alphabet before on my report cards in my life! My first semester of biology was dismal – two Cs, one D and one F.

Sign #1

But I’m a very stubborn person; I never give up. I’m resilient that way.

It took me three years, a C average and a few more Fs for me to realize – gee I don’t think this is really working for me!

I can laugh about it now but at that time, I felt incredibly insecure and my self esteem was shattered. I didn’t feel like I measured up to my peers, a lot of them were applying to med school which I felt was so far out of my reach it was laughable for me to even consider.

The most heartbreaking part was having to let go of my dream of being a research scientist. I had held on so long and just dreamed about one day finding a cure for a disease – be it HIV/AIDS, or even cancer.

When I reflect on this experience now, I realize that those low grades were signs – signs for me to stop and to realize that this is not the right direction for me. A person with a good sense of self esteem and self worth would be so humble as to say, okay this isn’t working, let’s look at what is working. What are some of my other interests?

I wasn’t one of those people back then; however, through this experience it’s made me into that kind of person now. I realize that if something is so arduous, so painful, an uphill battle that just eats away at my self esteem, it’s probably time to change direction.

I am hoping to share that nugget of wisdom with my children someday when I have them. That it’s okay to admit ‘defeat’, when really, it’s not quite defeat – it’s just a sign that there is a better path in another direction.

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