The Benefits of Failing

‘In the moment of failure, you might feel like the world is crumbling at your feet’, Laura Mazzitelli writes.

‘I can’t do this,’ you complain to your friend.

I’ll just drop out,you mumble through the tears.

But fear not! Failure isn’t so bad. In fact, even teaching professionals are saying failure can not only help you, it is transformative and essential to our learning.

Yep, you read that correctly. Sure, no one likes messing up. But we are only human, which means we are not perfect, nor can we succeed in absolutely every aspect of our life.

As a young uni student with the world at your feet, it’s easy to try escape in the face of failure. Whether it’s an exam problem, or a relationship problem, taking the easy route out may sound like the ideal solution.

But don’t be fooled.

Running away might save you some temporary hurt in your little bubble of denial, but this isn’t always best in the long term. You need to ask yourself: ‘Is quitting now going to help me in the future?

If your answer is no, well, it could be time to change your attitude.

One bad semester doesn’t mean it’s over.

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Before you can rise up in the face of failure, you need to snap out that ‘I give up’ mentality.  If you ever find yourself thinking ‘maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this’, you need to assess the following:

  1. Did I put in enough effort?

  2. Are my methods effective?

  3. Did I catch up on what I missed?

  4. Am I actively learning the content?

Reality is, most of you who have failed something at uni won’t have fulfilled all of the above points. Some of you may not be able to tick any of them off from time to time.

Perhaps you’re having a hard time lately, which has resulted in your lack of motivation… and that is okay. But are you really just going to give up because of one bad mark, or because of one off semester?

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” 
― Lance Armstrong Sally Jenkins, Every Second Counts

The slip-ups you make now can help shape your future, and set you on the right path to maturity and success.

The true negative outcome of failure isn’t the notion itself… it’s not doing anything to learn from it.

Things aren’t always going to work in your favour, and once you accept the potential for flaws and errors, you are already on the road to improvement and maturity.

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” 
― Truman Capote

If you change your mindset, mistakes can make you stronger and strengthen your skillset, and you will never make that mistake again. 

University is the best time for slip ups, and the phrase ‘trial and error’ exists for a reason. Sometimes we need to try something out and fail at it, to know whether or not it’s good for us.

If you can make your mistakes now, you can receive constructive criticism which will help you in the future. Imagine making those mistakes in front of your boss instead (let’s be real, that would be way more embarrassing).

In my first semester at uni, I failed a journalism assignment; I saw that dreaded ‘F’ at the bottom of my feedback. Was I disappointed with myself? Absolutely. But here I am in my third year writing about it, and I haven’t failed an assessment since. Failing made me more attentive to mistakes.

For those of you who struggle to deal with setbacks (yes, I’m talking to all the perfectionists and over achievers out there), know it’s okay to wallow in your failure. What’s not okay is giving up after one little error.

If you really can’t hack it after you’ve assessed every option going forward, and you truly gave it your best shot, a change of pace may be just what the doctor ordered. The world is full of opportunities, and perhaps you are better at something else – at least you gave it a solid go.

But, if it’s just a case of a bruised ego from one bad assessment mark, then you should really reconsider your rash decision to quit. Perseverance is character building, so why not be brave and give it another shot?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 
― Winston S. Churchill

Laura Mazzitelli is a third year UTS student studying a combined degree in Communications (Journalism) and Law. She is a music and coffee enthusiast, but her true passion is writing, and has been since her early teens.