How I Learned to Fail Successfully

Joel Schlaudt

William Spencer, Managerial Editor

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No really, I can graduate?

All right, you caught me. I was going to write this amazing piece on how you can be successful when you graduate. I was going to have this awesome overarching theme like you see in the New York Times editorials, “How the tear in my underpants got me a job, saved my relationship, and got me a brand-new car.” Yes, that was going to be my editorial until I realized, I was simply repeating the same thing you could hear from your college lecturers, career management classes, and so forth. Why not be a game changer and talk about something that no one else does? Failure.

As a student, I have always struggled. I always figured that school just was not my thing but one day I realized something about myself – I never shut up. I was always the student that asked questions and tried to invest in my schooling as best I could and somehow that landed me on the honor roll which landed me in honors classes, which then landed me in in advanced placement (AP). Even then, college was still this intangible creature with sharp, pointy teeth that I could never seem to wrangle. Little did I know that my college years would open so many doors and opportunities for me but it has certainly been a hit or miss relationship.

The “hits” occurred when I could make the Dean’s List during an 18-credit hour semester that included clubs, scholarship programs, and my duties as an RA. The “misses” however, they were the more imposing and impressionable experiences. I think some, if not most of us know the painful sting of investing a lot of time mentally and emotionally to your schoolwork just to pull back a 60 or worse; or to run through multiple study methods within a week only to end up more confused and unsure of yourself. We have all been there but the important thing is that we not only learn how to accept failure, but turn it into success.

When I fail, I grieve. Going through this process is helpful for me because it gives me time to understand where I went wrong and what I can do to improve. Once I have finished my sulking or spending the afternoon in my bed binging on Netflix while I shove a fist full of popcorn and goldfish crackers in my sad little face, I act. I remind myself that I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again! You would be surprised how strong the power of positive thinking can be. Making an intentional effort to redirect yourself, and do so in a constructive manner, can be one of the most empowering things. Take it from me because I am no academic, I am merely a person that loves to learn.

Throughout my years at Catawba, I gained the moniker, ‘The Batman’, a title my nerdy little self wears with pride. Whenever I need it, I think, “what would Batman do?” and then I remember the scene from The Dark Knight when Bruce Wayne says, “Batman has no limits.” Remember that your college career will be filled with exhilarating highs and crushing lows but through all of it, you have no limits and failure does not define you – it simply makes us better than we were before.

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