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Health And WellbeingStudent Tips

FAILURE: The F-Word That Will Never Let You Down

Don’t let failure or its multiple synonyms ever get you down. If you look closer, you’ll find something to look forward to, every single time.  

More than a decade and half ago, yes that long ago, I thought my career would never take off. I would never be what I want to be, never do anything worthwhile with my life. You see, what happened was that my then boyfriend got into IIMC (Indian Institute of Mass Communication) while I was still struggling to figure out a way of making it to my MA classes. What was worse was that I had actually worked hard preparing for that entrance exam while he was just a ‘natural’. For a few weeks, that somehow extended into months, I was not sure about what I was going to be or what I was going to do with my life. I was in panic mode.

If you think that was the first or the last time that happened, then let me tell you it wasn’t.  I faced the same sense of insecurity when I flunked my pre-board exams, when I was convinced that I wouldn’t even clear my 12th board exams, when I could not even make it to the first round of UPSC entrance, the list is long. But so is the list of things I learned from these so-called big-time failures.

No matter what happened, no matter how bad the situation seemed at that point, the outcome of the experience shaped me, making me who I am today. It’s thanks to that experience that I created my way to working with the world’s best brands in media and publishing. Every time I thought I had reached the end of the road, a muddy, not-so-easy track would always appear, not because I was lucky but because I always wanted to find a way out. I know it sounds like a TED Talk but hear me out. Here are 9 things that I have learned in the past, and you should keep them mind if you want to get past that much dreaded F-word – FAILURE.

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  1. Be Courageous. Try Everything:  There are some people who know what they want but most of us need time and experience to truly figure out what we want to do with our life. So, go out there and get work experience across industries – it’s the only way to know what you enjoy and where you see yourself in future.
  2. Find a Mentor: We all need a guide, it can be your professor, your neighbor, an aunt or uncle, or even your own parents. Spend time with them, listen to their stories. You never know where you find inspiration.
  3. Learn to Relax: The present generation is one of overbooked overachievers – expected to excel at everything, from sports and dramatics to chemistry and world economics. Take a break – learn to enjoy your downtime and don’t try to be productive all the time. The brain and your senses, just like all other organs, need rest.  
  4. Remember: It’s OK to Not Be the Best: You will never be good at everything and that is fine. Always focus on what you learn, rather than the rank you get. You will find your true calling sooner or later.  
  5. Maintain Friendships: I have been friends with people that I have known for more than three decades now. We are a close-knit bunch that has been with each other from the time when we probably did not even understand the concept of true friendship. They are your people, and they will always be there for you, and that is simply not worth giving up on.  
  6. Stop When You Know It’s Not Right: Don’t be afraid to quit. I had PCM (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics) in school and I wanted to be an architect, that was THE dream. However, I soon realized I was not good at it. I was afraid to miss a year of school, so I continued but I was miserable. Thankfully, I did quit eventually and took up English Literature, and that was one of the best decisions of my life.
  7. Take Care of Your Physical Being:  Not many people talk about it, but you are at the peak of your physical wellbeing right now. Take care of your body, eat good food, play a sport, run, dance, go for hikes – keep moving. Trust me, once you start focusing on your career, you will regret not doing more when you could.
  8. Travel When You Can (and Meet New People):  Anthony Bourdain famously said, “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together”. There is no education better than traveling and meeting new people. You not only learn about the culture, but you get to learn about the people and that is the most important experience you need in life.
  9. Read. A Lot: After travel, reading comes a close second in helping us understanding how the world functions. When I say read, I don’t mean just books – articles, podcasts, visual art – soak in all the knowledge you get from various resources. It will come in handy one day.

Well, this is my story. I made some choices that worked for me and some that did not. But you have your own tale to tell. So go out there and don’t be afraid to explore the world. 


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