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Black Girl Navigates: Failure

Black Girl Navigates: Failure

"All I do is win, win, win, no matter what!" - T-Pain

I am a 21 year-old woman who is learning how to navigate failure for the second time in my life. This isn't to say the I am failing at life, because in fact, I think quite the opposite is taking place. However, I have recently encountered a series of failures, some big and some small, that have changed the way in which I think about failures encountered during young adulthood.

First, it's important to note that I'm not asking for pity. At this point, so much time has passed since all of these instances took place, so I think it's safe to say that I've gotten all the pitying that I'll be needing. I'm truly blessed to have a support system that is able to navigate around my stubbornness, and help me make sense of everything. Second, as much as I've been able to heal from all of the failures that I'll talk about in this post, ya girl is still kind of hurt right now, so I'm not going to give as much detail as I probably would when talking about something as comical as Chad - I hope y'all haven't forgotten about Chad that quickly!

Contrary to popular belief, failing is actually not as harsh as it sounds and it's a pretty everyday occurrence for all of us. Most of our failures are characterized by more significant occurrences, such as not being offered the job, not sticking to a diet plan, receiving a failing grade, receiving a rejection letter, or not getting a promotion. Our other failures, which often aren't specifically characterized as failures, tend to revolve around things that we can bounce back from a bit easier. These failures look like waking up late, missing the bus, forgetting to take the chicken out to thaw and then getting that ass beat by your momma, etc.

Y'all still following me? Good.

Now's probably a good time to talk about my first failure. This happened at the ripe age of 18 years-old, and to be quite frank it greatly altered my perception of myself, for the worse. I've told this story so many times, but when I was 18 years-old, I got rejected from all nine colleges that I applied to. Now, part of this was my fault. I only applied to the the most competitive schools (schools with 35% acceptance rates and lower). In retrospect, this was a bad idea. Had I known what I know now, I might have applied to schools with acceptance rates ranging from 10%-65%. At the time, it was horrible. I had failed my family, myself, and I was entering April of my senior year of high school without knowing whether or not I would be going to college. However, a large part of this wasn't my fault. I was confident in my abilities.While I didn't have consistent guidance when I applied to college, I didn't think that would shape the number of acceptance letters that I got. I, like thousands of other competitive high school seniors who apply to top tier colleges, did every after-school club under the sun. I was in honor society, I took several AP courses, I did multiple sports, I had the community service, I got A's on A's on A's. My GPA was real fleeky! I am a first-generation, Nigerian-American, woman, from a low socio-economic background, who excelled in everything I did. Statistics told me that I would not only get into the college of my dreams, but that I would also get a nice hefty scholarship to go along with it. The joke was on me. As you can already imagine, ya girl was shook when "wear your college t-shirt to school" day came. Still, God came through and a few days prior, I had received my acceptance letter to a small liberal arts college in upstate New York. It wasn't my dream school and I had sent in my application two to three weeks prior, in a last minute attempt ensure that I was going to college. Long story short, my first year of college, I met three ridiculously inspirational and motivated women, who became my sisters (love y'all). I ended up leaving the hidden gem that is SUNY New Paltz and reluctantly started my second year of school at Boston University. Still, when I look back at my first year of college shenanigans, I can't help but notice that what I initially perceived to be a failure, turned out to be one of my greatest blessings and accomplishments.

Still, three years has passed and I'm failing again. The only difference is that I'm not taking it as hard. This time, I didn't fail at just one thing. In fact I failed at three separate things over the course of two weeks, but since, they happened at around the same time, I bunched them into one failure. I was working hard to get an "A" on a paper, and my professor decided it was less than "A" worthy and I got rejected from two personal development programs that I applied for. For those two weeks, it seemed like disappointment after disappointment. Looking back, I think I was more disappointed by the fact that I worked terribly hard for all three things, and none of them came to fruition. When I didn't accomplish exactly what I had hoped, it cut deeper than usual.

Interestingly enough, no matter how we're failing or what we're failing at, our natural ability to self-preserve discourages us from sharing our failures with others. This is especially true if you, like me, are a millennial. The millennial is always winning! We are truly the generation that embodies DJ Khaled's " All I Do Is Win." To make matters worse, we publicly display our successes on the Gram (Instagram), so that no one truly knows who's actually winning and who's failing. As young people, we face an extraordinary amount of pressure to compete with our peers, both academically and socially. Now, while I don't advocate for publicly displaying your failures, I think that many of us would learn to be a bit more kind to ourselves, if we saw that we weren't alone in our struggles. We might be more trusting of our individual growth process, and more compassionate with ourselves overall.

I say this, because it's December -- trust me, I wasn't ready for it either. As I reflect on my New Year's resolutions from 2017, I realize that each one of them was centered around this idea of "advancement." And to be honest, there nothing wrong with that! I was trying to catch every win that I could. However, as I start to prepare for my resolutions for 2018, I think that I will include at least one resolution that is dedicated to lovingly embracing my failures as untimely future successes. If you change your framework, growth is guaranteed.

How are you planning to change your framework this New Year?

*Disclaimer: God's good grace brought this blog to life.