How to deal with failure?

Failing sucks because most of us are entitled overachievers. I know it’s tough love, but it is important to hear… Or read. Not only we were told we were special little snowflakes that could achieve anything we want to, we were also implicitly led to believe that the world and the job market owed us a chance.

I mean, we study hard, got good grades, learn languages… Now, it is the world’s turn! They owed us a chance! We want that magical job that was promised at the end of the rainbow, also known as college. With gold! And a dancing leprechaun! Okay… Maybe not that last part… Even though it would be awesome…

Reality is quite different and it could be terrifying. There are no special snowflakes. Nobody owes us anything. We all have to fight for the few opportunities around or create our own. In this “Hunger Games” type of scenario failure can help you grow and seize the opportunities your previously inflated ego would not allow you to see. Here is a perfect example: a lot of people would rather work for free in an internship than get a position as programme associate or community mobilizer because they feel those positions are beneath them.

Failing may be the best thing that has ever happen to you!

First of all, shit happens. It is not just a bumper sticker. Learning to adjust to things not always going your way is actually a marketable skill. Plus, that’s just how life goes. You won’t get everything you want whenever you want it. Learning how to make the best out of an unfortunate situation is definitely going to be useful both professionally and personally.

There is also a lot to be said about having a time for being creative and expanding the possibilities of what you can do. I’ve seen a lot of times the quote: “When people succeed, they tend to party, but when people fail, they tend to ponder”. It means that in this time, you can really open yourself up for possibilities. This could be the most creative time of your life. Embrace it!

Unemployment is definitely not fun and I’m not saying you should do nothing with the rest of your life. I’m saying that if you don’t take this moment as the possibility it is, all you will have is the feelings of disappointment without the motivation to do anything about it. So, essentially, you are just going to be sad for a while. Honestly, who want that?

All I’m asking is that if you are going to fail (which you will, like all of us), do it big and do it with purpose. Use it as a learning experience. Use it as a transformative experience. Make it meaningful and make it count! Pack up and go teach a foreign language in a country that you always wanted to know, while you try to be a development photographer. Open your NGO while you wait tables. Start a youth movement against sexual assault while temping. Just do your own revolution! Apply for fellowships, grants, be the leader you want to be, inspire, vlog, blog, volunteer… Bring your ideas to life. You don’t necessarily have to have your dream job to live a life with purpose. And you are allowed to be side tracked from time to time.

Time is so precious and it is something we take for granted when we are already working in this field. There are not going to be many more times in your life when you will have this opportunity to be this daring and free without many consequences. Enjoy it! You only get one life. Make those regrets about the mistakes you didn’t get a chance to make.

I’ll see you next week, until then,

Best of luck,

Natasha Leite

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