<< The following content is an essay in our “Student Perspectives” series. The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of CARP or any employee thereof. >>
As my professor announced our graded final papers would be returned today, my stapled masterpiece of pages nonchalantly cascaded across my desk from the flick of my professor’s wrist. Arriving facedown, I eagerly flipped up my work to claim the A that I worked so earnestly for. To my dismay, I gape in silence at a menacing 89% circled in red ink.
“B+?! Is this really happening?! I only turn in ‘A’ quality work!”
My mind exclaimed to myself as I glared at my professor handing out papers to remaining students. “Have a good break everyone and thanks for this semester…” our professor mumbled as students were rushing out the classroom uninterested in his last commentary for the semester. Slowly reading the scribbled grading and sparse commentary on my paper, my brow wrinkled in dismay as I could barely believe he spent more than two minutes looking over three nights worth of work. Upon looking up from my paper to share a menacing glance with the professor, my eyes met the blank white board. He already packed his briefcase and left the room leaving me and my “B+” paper together.
Failure = Stress
Frustration triggered by perceived failures in life can inflict stress on any individual regardless of age, ethnicity, social class, or religious background. Perceived failures represent instances or results that have manifested themselves in contrast with the purpose/purposes which have been set by the individual. In the above scenario, the straight-A student is extremely unsatisfied with a B+ on the final paper. Within the same class, other students who achieved a B+ mark on their final may jump for joy as it saved their grade from plummeting to a C. The purpose of each individual represents desires within the mind. When unfulfilled desires remain unquenched in the human mind, feelings of agitation, purposelessness, or hopelessness may arise.
In order to cope with failure, some people will compromise their goal by lowering standards and muttering to themselves that aiming too high will inevitably lead to disappointment. As a result, mediocrity begins to invade as the norm due to fear of failure. Other times, individuals will blame the person in charge, friends, parents, environmental factors etc. in order to justify the reason for failure. Those two methods are regularly utilized because they produce consistent, safe results. It allows the person to relieve him/herself from stress and continue living life without taking risks. Unfortunately, those two mindsets behind failure are binary and lack the application of a progressive model.
One Step at a Time
Achieving one’s desires or purpose is never black and white. Any goal that is established in one’s mind cannot stand alone without incremental and progressive sub goals. The creation of stepping stones towards the ultimate goal must be initiated by the goal setter him/herself. Even if one’s current reality does not reflect their ultimate goal, it will definitely reflect steps along the progressive stages that have been set for one’s development. If such steps are not clearly defined, feelings of discouragement can easily overwhelm any person. Fruitless effort can make the heart sick, but it is our job to seek and define the fruits of our labor in a progressive manner. Failure should never be defined as such, rather a mere stepping stone in the progressive development towards the ultimate goal.