Sometimes I feel like laughing at how society brainwashes us especially in teenage. I can’t say about other parts of the world but here in India things work this way. In school days the definition of success is getting secured job. That secured job mostly means becoming a doctor or engineer. So the most common question till you reach class 10 is – what do you want to be a doctor or an engineer? That is a leading question which limits the mind of the children in thinking that these two are the only options to be successful in life. After class 10 a student has to choose the stream of study for the next 2 years- science, commerce or humanities. Those getting the highest marks can choose science and after 2 years can take a shot at the entrance exam for engineering or medical. So not able to get a score good enough for getting admission in science stream comes as a shocker first to the parents and then to the child. The first definition of failure which the child understands starts here.
Our concept of success and failure in life is powered by societal compulsions and pressure. Most succumb to it for the whole life and gets stuck in the grind of job, salary and a life of pay check to pay check. Some lucky few in their mid twenties understand the stupidity of this and try to carve a new definition and path for themselves. These are the ones who move towards being self employed, business or even starting YouTube channel and blogging etc. While the first group chose a path of what the society defines as success, the second group gives themselves the freedom to try and fail and then retry. Those who succeeded in this endeavor are the ones who become rich and famous and the first group people once they reach their forties start cribbing when they see these successful people that they missed the opportunity to try when they were in there twenties.
In the formative years of life failure is never an option. If you are getting less marks and just passing then you are considered as a failure. It is pointed out that you will never land up a good job it your performance stays like this. This creates insecurity when it comes from their parents who are the closest. Then comes the entrance exams for admission to various course and government jobs. There is cut throat competition considering the high population and the craze for government jobs. Not clearing any of these means even after graduation you are without any secured job. Then comes the mediocre private jobs which pay very less. In India 80 percent of the working class population is stuck in this. All these stages which starts from 18 years to about 28 years are considered a failure if you are not able to achieve either of them. Now the societal pressure of being stigmatized as a failure is so high that often it gets impossible to get over it and start afresh in a new direction.
So once you start schooling and till the late twenties failure is not an option, not for you, your family and society. If only in these stages of life it is said to the children that this is not failure but these are attempts to succeed. If you do not succeed it does not mean that you are a failure. Failure is when you stop trying. There is a gap between not succeeding and failure but that gap is not shown to the children. This is where the children miss the freedom of failure. They are just given two options success and failure.
Now failure can be classified in two ways, one is when you take action but do not get the result you wanted and second is not taking action at all. In the first case it will lead to disappointment. This disappointment comes from the expectations you had from your effort to succeed or the motive. And the motive is based on the reason you chose to try something. When we ask the right questions after failing this way then we get the real answers, if we are true to over selves. Was I trying this due to some pressure or was I trying to satisfy my ego or did I really like what I was trying to achieve. It is not necessary that it will always be the third option, but one has to be truthful to self to accept the first two options. These types of failures are not actually failures but very important learning lessons. One who is truthful will ultimately succeed.
The second case is not trying at all or giving up mid way. Most of us fall in this category. Even this is not that bad. When I decided to write daily I followed for some time but then there were gap days in between. And slowly these gap days started becoming more frequent and bigger. But I cannot say that I gave up midway what I started-to write daily. Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing, sometimes you can’t think of what to write, sometimes you feel just lazy. But If I am using these gaps to improve upon something else then it cannot be termed as a failure. I created space to do something else and not being tied down to one thing. I used my option to my freedom to failure but it is again not a failure. I may have used that time in some productive things or just doing something mundane but it was my choice. We have to accept that our priorities can change over time and failure to do what I wanted is not a failure but can be just that I found something better to do or reprioritized.
Since childhood the fear of failure is drilled in children and then it takes ages for the child to get out of that fear. Failure should not be treated as an adversary and be allowed to overwhelm us. Failure helps us to identify the unrealistic expectations, mixed up priorities and motives and ultimately get over it. So please do not close the window of freedom to fail in someone’s life.