April 25th, 2008

If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived
An Inspirational Video About Famous Failures

I was lucky to be taught by an exceptional teacher in school. No, she was not exceptionally good. In fact, she was the direct opposite. For some reasons, I was always one of the few people she constantly picked on, but that day was the culmination of her greatness.

In a fit of madness, she decided to read my mid-year exam grades – subject by subject, pointed her finger at me, announced to the class that I was a fine example of someone who’ll never make it to the top, and then proceeded to cackle with satisfaction. A dear classmate, Mary-Anne, stood in my defense but was met with a ridiculous “HAH!” and then she continued her speech about why I am doomed to fail, in a matter-of-factly fashion, like I was a specimen of failure. I still remember clearly how she looked like at that moment in time — her cat-eye frames, her crazed stare, her screeching laughter, even her hideously bushy underarms, the hairs fanning out of her cap sleeve blouse as she stood, arms akimbo.

Hairy Armpit

The eyes of the entire class was on me, looking for some sort of reaction. I was too stunned to react. What happened after that can be summarised as follows: depression, therapy, dropped out of school, depression, therapy, changed schools, depression, therapy, dropped out of new school, depression, therapy. I was only 13 but in that period, I was popping Valium like it was going out of fashion just to get through another day.

One fine day I decided to pick myself up and go back to my old school because I’ve grown tired of wallowing in self pity. I think that day was one of the most important turning points in my life when I decided to become a person who tries to prove her detractors wrong instead of conceding defeat meekly.

This story would be more spectacular if I were to tell you I went to top the class that year. I didn’t — I came in third, which isn’t a bad result considering the lessons I’d missed — but I did qualify for the triple science class for my GCEs, taught by the same lovely teacher, no less. :o

Um, excuse me while I think of something other than hairy pits now.

Have you ever had someone tell you you’ll never succeed in something only to have them be proven wrong?

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Thanks for that video! I've read the story of abraham lincoln before, and it always sort of inspired me :) A lot of times, a failure is just what you need to succeed!
Zech  at 1:32 pm on April 25, 2008
Yup, sometimes you need something to shake you up a bit, push you to your limits and if you survive, you'll emerge as a stronger, better person.
Ginger M.  at 2:52 am on April 26, 2008
I think it's ridiculously sad that a woman whose job is to teach and challenge young minds - would EVER act like that! How devastating and sad for you. I'm glad you bounced back though! Love the drawing! Just how many fingers did she have? ;o)
Dory  at 9:15 am on April 26, 2008
Failure/Achievment - Just ask Thomas Edison - but it makes us who we are - it teaches us to be ready for anything and everything! Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit. --- Napoleon Hill Benny www.ya-ttitude.com
Benny Greenberg  at 12:43 pm on April 26, 2008
Excellent post, inspirational. I am sure most people have similar stories; unfortunately not everyone has the determination to "prove them wrong." In my class, I call this attitude "the Michael Jordan." In fact if you ask my students what the Michael Jordan is they will all say "it is the you don't give up attitude."
the fearless blog  at 9:25 pm on April 26, 2008
@Dory - Thank you Dory.
@Benny - Good quote.
@Fearless - It's true not everyone has the determination. I was also extremely blessed and fortunate to have support and encouragement from my family.:)
Ginger M  at 9:41 pm on April 27, 2008
Thanks for that story. As a teacher, I sometimes forget that my words have the power to heal as well as to harm . I am glad to hear you were able to find a larger paradigm to see your life in than a test score! Funny how once you did, you blew the test scores away ;)
Damien Riley  at 1:12 pm on April 28, 2008
Well as they say..with power comes responsibility... I have a lot of respect for teachers, it's one of the hardest jobs there is. They are expected to be exemplary and infallible and most of the time, they live up to this expectation and if they don't, it's because they are only human. Monsters however, are the exception -- they seek pleasure in making others suffer and it was just unfortunate that I had to meet one.
Ginger M  at 2:11 am on April 29, 2008
I wondered if your teacher was trying to encourage you, essentially saying, "Go on, prove me wrong" and hoping you would. I know that's unlikely, and it's a technique I'd never condone or use. You proved your teacher wrong, but I'll bet she treated other students the same way, and that her attitude did more harm than good.
Christopher  at 4:45 am on May 2, 2008
Very inspirational. It is amazing how many very successful individuals had to overcome great setbacks in their lives. They struggled with circumstances and yet managed to move through them successfully and ended up living out their dreams. I think this teaches us to Never Give Up and Never Quit!
Adam Sicinski  at 6:17 pm on May 28, 2008
I had a huge failure after my exams, even if i worked hard for it and most of my dreams fell down after it. All doors closed suddenly, nobody trusted me. Think this movies inspired me to bounce up, all those people who wants to steal your dream just have to be quiet, those stories really help me to bounce up and make my dream come true. As for me if you can dream about it you can do it.
Fredo  at 6:59 pm on February 2, 2010
[...] Changing times … By unsymmetric “If you have never failed, you have never lived“  Here is a nice video about it. [...]
Changing times … « Just plain curious  at 3:06 pm on April 5, 2010
i just failed taking the nursing licensing test for the first time, and ive decided to get my feet back up and try again in 45 days after the waiting period that the nursing board has on people that failed the test. the sad thing was that my mom told me indirectly that im a failure because i failed and now asks me to hide face by not telling anyone about what happened to me. i felt like garbage because of her and was depressed. so right now i feel totally blah and empty like motovation was taken out of me, but after seeing this post, something sparked in me that i haven't seen in a while. that video encouraged me and actually surprised me. i will rise up and be a nurse. thank you so much for posting this post :) <3
ange  at 9:05 am on July 16, 2010

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