Nine Things I’ve Failed At

scrabble tiles spelling "fail your way to success"

…and what I’ve learned from it

1. Blogging

In the last few years, I have started several blogs. Each lasted between three days and a week. I’d read a few stories and watched a few videos about bloggers who got really big, really fast. I thought this meant that it would be easy and people would flood into my website and care about what I had to say right off the bat.

Of course, this doesn’t happen. When I realized each time that everyone was not coming immediately to my blog, I would stop working on it. This happened seven times– seven paid domain names, seven website themes, and quite a few articles. 

After all this, I finally realized: it takes a ton of time to build a decent following. It generally takes a ton of time to create anything you can call successful. Now I have a blog that no one reads that I’m dedicated to, and am putting lots of time into. This time, I’m giving it at least a few years before thinking about giving up.

2. Freelancing

Open laptop with coffee cup
Freelance writing from home

I don’t know where I heard it, but I heard from somewhere that it was a piece of cake to make a ton of money on Upwork. I slapped my name on the top of the About page and started applying to every listing.

I applied to maybe fifty or so listings before realizing that no one was interested in hiring me. I wondered why it was so much harder for me than everyone else. It didn’t take rocket science to realize it was because I put zero effort into my portfolio.

I literally put absolutely no samples on my page for people to look at, and on top of that I used the same generic paragraph to apply to every listing and didn’t even bother sending samples there either. I just expected people to trust me with their projects with no proof that I could actually do what they needed done.

Now I’ve learned that you have to put real effort into building something and proving yourself before succeeding. As a generally lazy individual, this sucks to hear, but it’s the truth: effort is the only “secret” to success.

3. College

This one really burned. I spent my whole childhood thinking I was going to be a doctor or a lawyer or something. I told all my classmates I was going to go to Princeton on a full scholarship. Certain folks told me I couldn’t do college. This only convinced me further that I was going to.

Guidance counselors, teachers, and my parents told me constantly college was the only way to not be homeless. I put my full faith in this statement, and focused on nothing but my tests. I managed to get a 32 on my ACT, and got a full ride to a small college– not Princeton, but still, a full ride.

Did I know what I wanted to do? Hell no. But I sure did show up to that school.

I had accomplished my goal of getting into college, but I was miserable. I didn’t care about what I was learning in college because I didn’t even know what I was doing it for. I started failing classes back to back. I didn’t even do my writing class, and I love to write. I was tremendously depressed and dysfunctional.

I failed and failed those classes, and after a year, I dropped out. Lo and behold, I didn’t ruin my whole life. I got a decent job and started following my dreams. I am so much happier than when I was in college. 

What I’ve learned from this is that even though other people may tell you there is only one good way to live your life, it’s not true. There are different paths for everybody and you shouldn’t put yourself through hell just to make others happy.

4. Flipping

At some point I decided I was going to make extra money by identifying absolute steals at the thrift store and selling them online for a much higher price. In the true spirit of entrepreneurship, I spent the twenty dollars I had to my name on records.

Unfortunately, these records weren’t in the best condition, which is usually true for thrift store records. Did this stop me from listing them online as brand new and unopened? Absolutely not!

They sold, and I shipped them out, thinking I was a genius and this money was about to hit my bank account. Nope- unsurprisingly, the purchasers had a lot to say about this arrangement. In the end, I didn’t get paid, and I had to deal with a bunch of scroungy records.

The moral of the story here is that lying to someone you want business from is really dumb. I definitely wouldn’t spend my last twenty dollars banking on a lie again.

5. Chemistry

I failed at Chemistry

I was always the smart kid growing up. I fall squarely into the category of kids who were told they were gifted growing up, and then got totally burnt out later in life. 

I had a lot of pride in this title and worked for perfection throughout school. I got straight A’s for years, and wouldn’t accept anything under a B. I figured if every grade wasn’t phenomenal it would go on my imagined personal record and I wouldn’t get into college. And then, everyone would stop thinking I was smart. My parents didn’t even check my grades, this torture was completely self-imposed. 

Then came the beast– high school chemistry. My brain just did not wrap around any of what was going on, and slowly but surely, my grade dropped. I was shocked, because usually school came so easily to me. I teetered somewhere between an F and a D the entire last quarter. Luckily, I did end up passing with a D. 

That D slightly touched my beautiful GPA, and I was mortified. I kept it secret til my senior year, when I applied for colleges. Surprise! I got a full ride anyway. 

Turns out, you don’t have to be literally perfect to succeed at something.

6. Driver’s Test

I used to be one of those people that thought they knew everything. When driving came around, it was no exception. I passed my permit test just fine, and relaxed until the day I took my driver’s test.

I spent exactly zero time thinking about it. The first time I ever parallel parked was the day of the test; and while I knew a roundabout turn was a thing, I didn’t actually know how you did it. I turned into the far lane first thing, and asked which way the instructor wanted me to turn… on a one way street.

I absolutely bombed that test.

After failing, I cried in my car. I had learned my lesson: I actually need to study because I don’t, in fact, know everything.

7. Saving money

person dropping a quarter into a piggy bank
I fail at saving money

I actually fail this one all the time. I suck at saving money! I’m an impulse buyer, and sometimes a cute jacket just feels like it could support me for the rest of my life.

Of course, it can’t. I took my support system for granted until I ran out of money entirely, and had to start frantically doordashing for basic living expenses. I ended up in college without enough money to pay for food and lost a lot of weight. My pride was too high to tell anybody I spent all of my money, so I dealt with it.

That one taught me that little things I think are pretty aren’t worth sacrificing my livelihood. I still struggle, but I know the importance of saving now and I’m slowly gaining financial health.

8. Running

When I was in high school, I decided I was going to get sporty. After class was over one day, my best friend and I went to track try-outs. My bestie was fast, but I was super slow. I didn’t let this deter me, though, I just went for long-distance instead.

I got to the point where I could run far just fine, but I was still slower than the others. I felt energetic, and I was muscular, but I was still so embarrassed by not being as fast.

I quit running because of that, and to this day I regret it. I’m back to feeling sluggish and gasping for air after climbing the stairs. I wish I could go back and tell my slow-running highschool self what we learned– staying healthy isn’t about being the best. 

9. Keeping my job

This one goes way back to one of my first jobs. I worked at a certain fast food restaurant with big golden arches on the outside. The people there were mean, and the pace was extremely fast. However, the starting pay was surprisingly good for the time.

I was a good employee and always showed up on time. I didn’t make friends with my coworkers, but that’s typical for me; I’m an introvert. One day right before I went to work, I got dumped. I was inconsolable and called my manager sobbing.

I told her I wasn’t coming to work for personal reasons, and she said I was fired if I didn’t come in. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to handle hundreds of people during an emotional crisis, and I’m sure she did too. I just accepted the loss.
My dad wasn’t ecstatic that I got fired, but I don’t regret my decision not to go to work that day. I learned that others won’t make you a priority, so you have to make yourself a priority.

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