February 14, 2017

A Personal Letter to Failure.

Dear Failure,

We have been friends for many years. We have known each other since forever, and we are at the point of our friendship where we can be honest with each other.

Truthfully, I don’t like you because I have never felt good in your presence. Unlike many friendships out there, we don’t share good times. We don’t hang out; we don’t laugh at things together; we don’t share our secrets, our hopes and our fears. The only thing that ties us together is bitter memories.

I still remember the first time we got to know each other.

It was a Thursday morning, the day the national exam results were announced, and I thought there was no way I could afford to not pass with flying colors. If I didn’t, my entire future would be uncertain. I mean, we are talking about the national exam here; failure was not an option.

Like all my friends, I had high hopes. I was expecting to obtain high marks because I gave my heart and soul to that test. I burned the midnight oil on countless nights. So, not for a second, did I expect what was coming.

I left early for school that morning and, instead of taking the bus, I walked. Once I reached the school, I was told to head to the exam hall to get my results. All of us had to line up according to our classes and, at this point, my confidence left me. My heart was racing and I was thinking of all the worst case scenarios that could happen. I swear I could have died there.

When my name was finally called, I picked up all the courage I could find in me and moved forward.
Once I saw my results, my heart sank. I remember just standing there, staring at it. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I even thought this was some kind of a prank. It must be. Teachers can play pranks too, right? I mean, how could this be possible? I worked my ass off for this test! How could I do so poorly?

It took me awhile to process everything and to calm the voices in my head. I tried my best to control my tears and wear my best fake smile in front of everyone. Once I got home though, I locked myself in my room. I cried my eyes out and drowned myself in self-pity. I thought it was the end for me.

That was four years ago.

Looking back at it now, I am glad it happened. I am glad you, failure, walked into my life that day because I learned a lot from that experience. For instance, I now know what my strengths and weaknesses are. I now know how it feels to fail, and that it’s okay, because it is the first step to success.

Thanks to this experience, I am now okay with not being number one, because I acknowledge the fact that there will always be someone better than me. I just have to do the best I can.

Finally, thanks to this, I have become the person I am today. A better person. A better version of myself.

Nevertheless, it still doesn’t change the way I feel about you, failure. I don’t like you, and I never will. But I know we are going to make more memories together in the near future.

So here’s to us.




Author: John Tan

Image: Flickr/Jae

Editor: Travis May

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