The Sting of Failure: painful and promising

I recently shared my story regarding my academic failures. Since sharing my story, someone asked: “how exactly did you overcome your failures; what did you do? There are many layers and even as I write, I am still overcoming. It took me a long time to pronounce the words: “I failed.” For me, those words are painful, powerful, promising and brutally cleansing – all at once.

After my first academic suspension and I moved back home with my parents, it was well over a year before I could pronounce those words. One day, my dad and I had a difficult conversation that escalated into my excuses and my dad yelled: “Cheryl! Until you accept and admit you failed, you will stay stuck!” His words angered me and I belched bitterness. His words sounded harsh, and insensitive to my failures. I expected that my dad’s words would soothe me, not sting me. I felt terrible inside and more importantly, I realized the people in my life were also impacted by my failures. As I had expectations, so did they.

For quite some time, I kept blaming family and friends for not understanding me, pressuring me, not supporting me the way I needed and actually exploited them to anyone that would listen. I blamed my family for sheltering my life and believed that was the cause of my being irresponsible. I was firm in the belief that they abandoned me in support at the most difficult time of my life; this was my truth. Whenever I was challenged and questioned as to what happened, I exploded in loud conversations, overtaking the other person’s words when they were close to the truth or speaking the truth. It was simply too much for me to bear. What was the truth? I lost interest in the courses because I was struggling to comprehend the concepts. My attention span in the course was at a low level; and I was inconsistent in attending my classes. I was failing and thought I had to force through to pass the courses. I kept thinking about the expectations I set with my family, and friends. I was going to be a corporate lawyer.

I didn’t want to come down off of the high mountain of being called “smart,” “intelligent” and the word “lawyer” just sounded prestigious. I found myself in a fight for a lawyer label. Labels “lie.” I realized that too far in and flunked out of school. I was on academic probation my first year, and the excuse of the freshman year being difficult was convenient. In my sophomore year, the struggle to continue the lie strangled me into depression. I just could not keep forcing an academic fit.

I camouflaged my struggles with excuses, explanations and blamed others. The failure forced me to stop forging the names of others . . . you can’t be a counterfeit and pursue your calling too. Signed, Dr. CASM

Value points that helped me mature and move forward:

  1. Admit and accept failures; learn those lessons.
  2. Don’t fake it because you won’t make it. Counterfeits crash.
  3. Let your pain purge by focusing on your future promises. You need some hope to help heal.
  4. Stop getting those “my truth massages.” Get professional help; talk to someone that will tell you the truth.
  5. Ask the hard questions; what will it take to achieve the goals? Don’t fall in love with the idea, don’t fall in love with titles and labels.

#stayfocused #staytrue #stayyou

Photo by Sam Ilić on / CC BY-NC

The Hidden Future in my Failure

I was a pretty good student in school and managed to receive acceptances from multiple colleges. Finally, my family and I determined it would be best for me to attend the University of South Carolina (USC). Guess what? EPIC FAIL. Literally. It was a heart-wrenching reality of failure and nothing in me wanted to move forward. I was not ready for the responsibility of time, purpose and people.

The shame and humiliation of returning home and facing family and friends was a bad dream that seemed endless. I enrolled in the local technical college and completed some classes during my suspension. After my semester suspension was over, my family and I decided it was not best to return to USC. It was hard to face my reality of not returning.

I enrolled in the local liberal arts college and guess what? EPIC FAIL. Literally, but this time “again” was attached. I changed my major a few times and just could not get my direction. I finally enrolled in a sociology course and bingo! We were in love! I declared my major in sociology. I graduated and went on to graduate school. Eventually, I went back to school (with a husband and 2 kids later) and obtained my master’s degree. What next? I decided to take the PhD plunge.

My shame and humiliation were the vehicles used to establish humility within me. I had to learn the art of responsibility. I’ve been so ashamed of my failing process for many years. I’ve traveled and taught abroad, published, lectured, presented, researched, and have multiple academic teaching awards.

It’s okay that our paths are different, as long as we arrive at our destiny destination. I’ve processed all the pain; I’m free to share my soul’s journey. Failure is the first sighting of a future. signed, Dr. CASM

Photo by Free For Commercial Use (FFC) on / CC BY

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