Think of a time you worked so hard to achieve a dream and failed. Failing is my biggest nightmare, literally and figuratively. I believe failing is more than not accomplishing what you want, I view it as I am not good enough for the outcome I desire. Failing hinders many of my actions because I begin to live a “what if” life style to prevent failing and it is draining. Truthfully, I am a control freak because I am so scared to fail. My road map to life is working so hard that there is no way I cannot get what I deserve. However, as great as that sounds to receive the things that you deserve in life, often times we do not get what we deserve. Consequently, I had to learn the hard way that I cannot prevent all failures in my life, even the big life changing events. The biggest life lesson I learned is to not live a life to prevent failure, but to live a life that is resilient to failure.
I spent my whole life preparing to get into the college of my dreams, the University of Southern California. This may seem like a small problem, but I had two Alumni’s from the University of Southern California in my family counting on me to carry on the legacy as a Trojan. As a sixth grader, I selected each class based off the USC requirements to allow myself to take the highest classes possible once I entered high school. A sixth grader should not be stressing themselves out over a college acceptance letter that is six years away. However, that is how my mind works, I over analyze and do everything to avoid failure.
As I entered high school, every class I took was based off the University of Southern California’s entrance requirements. I took four advance placement classes as a junior and three as a senior. I overloaded my course work each year because I strongly believed my hard work would pay off, even when my high school counselor told me, “this extra stress is not worth it.” I responded, “I refuse to take the easy way out.” Any opportunity to increase my chances to get into the University, I did. For example, the USC website had a list of recommendations for extra classes to enhance your chances of being accepted to the University and of course, I took every recommended class. When all the seniors got out early at 12:45 pm, I stayed behind until 3:00 pm for an additional class that was on the USC recommended classes. I pushed my-self beyond my limits for this dream, in which many of my friends would tell me, “do not take that class, you will be fine, and will still get into USC.” Every single event I participated in was only for the application. I was involved in six clubs, President of my graduating class, three sports, and maintained above a 4.0 grade point average all of high school. I thought all the odds were in my favor because I worked so hard and did what no one else seemed to be doing. Sadly, this was not enough for the University of Southern California.
On this specific day, I received my rejection letter to the University of Southern California. Sitting on the counter was a tiny white envelope. Acceptance letters are huge envelops that have the University’s acceptance letter and financial aid package. Rejection letters were small, normal sized envelopes. I knew immediately, I was rejected because of the size of the envelope. I stood in the kitchen, staring at the envelope, hoping it would turn into a huge envelope. As I stood there, I told my grandmother, “Why should I bother opening this? I know I got rejected.” My grandmother responded, “If you did, your dreams are not over.” Finally, I walked over to the kitchen counter and I grabbed the envelope. As I opened the envelope, I hoped that maybe, just maybe this University gave small acceptance envelopes and sent the big envelope later on. To my dismay, it was a rejection letter. Immediately, I began to think of every single choice I made to get into this school and how not a single action I did mattered anymore. All the hours spent stressing over exams and how to get my A- to an A+ to increase my chances, none of that mattered anymore. This was my reality and I had to move on.
Although this rejection letter was a hard failure for me to overcome; I had to realize that this was not the end for me. After receiving this rejection letter, I gave myself three days to be sad about it and moved on. I learned the hard way that not everything in life will go exactly how I want it to, but my dreams are not over. I turned this rejection letter into fuel to keep me motivated and pinned it on my wall in my room to remind my-self that I have to be resilient to any failure. Furthermore, I learned that stressing and trying to try control a future outcome is not worth the anxiety.
After my set back, I started to practice working solely on the present and taking one day at a time toward my goals, rather than making a set plan for years in advance that could be altered at any moment from any failure. I have learned to be resilient toward my failures and not to worry about controlling my future to prevent failure. I stopped using the “what if” method to life and began living a “so what” lifestyle. The “so what” method is taking the good or bad outcome in the present and choosing my next decision based off the present. I no longer make choices or worry about decisions that are out my hands that are years from the present. At times, I am overwhelmed with the future and wonder will I be “good” enough to transfer out, but I realized no matter how hard you work, life is not fair. What really matters is if I am resilient enough to not back down from these failures. Therefore, I will continue to keep my rejection letter posted on my wall because it taught me how to be resilient and not to stress over choices that are so far into the future, but to worry when there is something to worry about. Finally, I challenge you to be resilient to your failures and to not let these outcomes stop your dreams and goals.