Open Page

Coping with failure

It is painful to fail. What is even more painful is when one is left alone to fail. Then solitude and the pain begin to takes a toll. Things seem to lose colour and what awaits one is a roller coaster of dejection and low self esteem. There are moments when one wonders, "Is it my fault that I failed?" The mind is clouded and clarity is scarce. How to move on is the question.

These difficulties one face post a failure is closely connected to how the world perceives failures. Our world has an unending obsession with success. Limelight is always on what success brings — money, fame, happiness. The other end of the spectrum is mostly ignored. Be it in relationships, academics or at work, one enjoys company and attention in success. Failures are left to be borne alone, sans the fanfare.

In schools we are taught about Lincoln and Edison who succeeded despite failures. But, on the practical side, are people really encouraged to take risks, fail and risk again? Is it not that the world encourages winning fast, and settling down even faster.

Why is it that we are not taught how to fail, or how to fall with grace, and then return stronger? We like to talk about who has made more money, who is running a successful business. Don’t we always talk about the anecdotal tortoise that won the race against the hare? Would we have talked about it had it lost the race? Tricky question, really. But the point is we are ashamed to talk of how we have fallen down. We are afraid that we might by judged or made fun of. So, the reality is that we are afraid to fail. The frustration one feels in a failure is an outcome of this fear.

What we don’t realise here is that success is only the end result, of which failure is an inevitable part. Will a baby ever learn to walk without falling, and falling again? Can one ever learn swimming without nearly drowning oneself, at least once? Truly, failures are the stepping stones to success.

Really, it is failures that the world must celebrate. It is in those dark hours that one grows as a person. That is when one introspects, emerging stronger. Failures provide one a sense of silence, a "me-space" to think clearly. It is an opportunity to self-correct. When we fail, we are in reality planted at a new place. One where there is tremendous possibility to grow. But, that can happen only if we look ahead from the abyss.

This could be easier said than done. To grow again, means to shed the pangs of failing. It means summoning one’s entire reserves of grit. This is when, not merit, but one’s attitude comes to rescue. To stand up when you fail needs a mind that says, "Dear life, serve me more lemons. I am ready."

Failures make us rediscover our true self. If we are to chart a map of a person’s evolution in life, every failure is a probable peak, a hidden one at that. So, you see, every failure offers us a possibility — one where we can choose to move ahead. But, the challenge is in converting the fall into a peak. Also, it is really in those bleak hours that a person needs help. Our obsession with success stigmatises failure and somehow shifts the blame to the failed, creating a cycle of self-blame and dejection.

That is precisely why our perception of failures must change. Rather than looking at failures as downfalls, they can be seen as hidden opportunities with enormous potential. That will make us realise that a person needs support in failures. It will teach us not to make fun of those who do not win. It will help us be the shoulders where our dear ones can lean on when life gives them lemons.

So folks, what we need are lemons. More lemons. After all, what is the punch in life if one does not chase dreams, fail and chase again? Just like a crazy seeker!

anakhakvijay@gmail.com


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:20:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/coping-with-failure/article37838687.ece

Next Story