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Learning From Failure


I always struggled with this interview question: “tell us a time you failed, and how did you recover from it.” It’s ironic because answering this question should be easy for me as  I have been involved in so many different activities, but it never was. Maybe because I never saw the act of doing something and not succeeding at it as a failure because I simply get satisfied from just doing it.

But on this 12th of August 2018, I have experienced what failure truly feels like. It felt like I was a looser, like I was left out, it felt like a waste of time and money, and it felt shameful. What was different this time: I had complete control on how that day would go and I did not hold on to it.

I had been training for 2 months to run a 5K at the BTNBig10K race in Chicago. The day of the event, I thought it would be nice to have some company, someone to cheer for me, someone to capture the moment as I pass through the finish line.  But I had suspected that the friend I had invited may not have been the best company to have that day; in fact we got in a heated argument the day prior while we were on the way to our hotel in Chicago. That had already put me in an angry mood which was a sign I what I should not have expected any better the next day.

The day of the race, I woke up exhausted because I went to bed angry, I could not rest.  As I was trying to get up, my friend started asking questions I found provoking. I started feeling unhappy. I felt that friend did not have my best interest at heart at that moment and she was being on the way of me getting ready for my race as we were both trying to get ready at the same time. More bickering followed, we left the hotel late, we got lost on the way, and by the time I arrived at the starting line, there were no starting lines; the race had already started and I was not allowed to run.

For a good fraction of time I got lost in space. I could hear voices but they sounded so far away. All I could hear is my own thought yelling at me so loudly and sucking up my strength to stand straight. How could I have been late for something I wanted this bad, for which I prepared for 2 months? How did I allow this to happen?

I sat on the grass frazzled, 20 minutes later I saw the runner arriving, cheering, getting their metals;
I felt the shame. As I was ready to leave, I realized my friend was not around and had gone explore the town. That’s when I realized that my people pleasing personality is not doing me any good.

Here I was trying to get to Chicago a day prior, staying in a hotel when I didn’t need to, allowing the company of someone I felt hesitant to have for that particular day due to unresolved conflicts we had but still accepted because I did not want to disappoint. And in the end we both lost time, energy, and money.

The biggest lesson I had learnt from this experience is to take control; to take control of the situation, take control of how I chose to feel, take control of how I wanted this day to go for me. This has put into perspective how I have handled other aspects of my life where I lacked to take charge. I should not have put on the side what I truly wanted in other to accommodate others. The truth is my friend also accommodated me with her time and money when she would have probably rather do something else; if only we had stayed true to our true desires.

All hope is not lost, I am working on being true to myself everyday, as on running an even bigger race next year! 🙂 Let’s go 10K!

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