Learning how to Fail by Aisling Keane

My entire life, I have attempted to succeed in what I cared most about. Growing up as an athlete, I was very “tunnel vision” about not failing. It was black and white in my mind – if I did the work, I’d reap the rewards. When I wanted to make the varsity high school team as a freshman, I spent any free time I had during the summer at the fields or at practice securing my position on the team. When I wanted to become a division one soccer player, I worked on my fitness to bring my game to the next level. And, I did it. The achievements I accomplished during my athletic career were not easy, but I had a knew if I set goals and stuck to my plan, I wouldn’t fail.


Now, I’m at a point in my life that it seems failure is inevitable. I have to face the real world – which is a lot more complex and confusing than just having to lower my mile time. I’ve begun the job search, which has only proven to be a series of rejections. Hours of perfecting a cover letter and sending it off, along with my hopes and dreams, usually result in a two-sentence rejection e-mail. AND, that’s if I’m lucky enough to hear back at all. The constant in my life was always sport – but the concussion I got during my senior soccer season stripped me from the opportunity to end my eighteen-year career the way I had anticipated. Every failure during senior year has an essence of finality to it, which is petrifying.

I’m 21. In no way should I have the mindset that “doors are closing” and that these are my “last opportunities.” I know I don’t need to find a perfect job. I know I don’t need to have everything end perfectly. I’m young and I’ll figure things out with time. But, in our youth-crazed society, I feel that I should be accomplishing everything, NOW.

I try not to get down on myself when I perceived that I’ve failed. In the past, failure was something I kept to myself because I didn’t want others to know that not everything comes easily. Or, even worse – that I put myself out there only to be embarrassed. Senior year has taught me about how to be more open with people. I started joking with my friends about how I’ve been rejected from jobs I really wanted, to only realize they were in the same exact position. By being more open and honest with others I have gained a network of support that I never had before.


Failing is hard. But having a support system to pull you back up makes it so much easier to move on to the next opportunity. And, don’t forget…

  • Walt Disney was told he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”
  • JK Rowling had 12 publishers reject the Harry Potter manuscript.
  • Steven King had his first book rejected 30 times.
  • Elvis Presley was told that he was going nowhere and should go back to driving a truck.
  • Charles Darwin was chastised for being “too lazy”

They all faired well, and so will we.

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