Beauty in Failure

                Anyone who lives, or has lived, in Chestertown, Maryland, knows that there are many hidden treasures in this town. Many of these treasures can be found in an antique book store tucked in South Cross Street, named The BookPlate. This store has an incredible amount of brilliant literary works written by known and unknown writers. Yesterday, as I took a walk downtown to the post office, I decided to take the opportunity to visit the cherished book store, for it was a beautiful autumn day and I needed some book-comfort. As soon as I entered the store, the aroma of aged paper and of eternal wisdom welcomed me, and somehow, it directed me towards the American History section. I picked up a book written about one of my favorite American presidents- Abraham Lincoln- and began to flip through the pages. Although I merely skimmed the book, a quote by Lincoln stood out me: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” Is Lincoln suggesting that failure is a good thing? Maybe he has a point…

                I exploit every opportunity that comes into my school email account, and when I find myself fulfilling what each of these opportunities offer, I become overwhelmed by all of the accomplishments. To be completely honest, I’m scared of success. Becoming successful in the world’s eyes is relatively easy. What you need is a little bit of dedication, hard work, perhaps go the extra mile when you can, and watch yourself rise in the academic or corporate ladder. I’ve noticed that many times, the acclimations of worldly success are that money and prestige become the ultimate goals, and knowledge becomes limited because you begin to believe that there is nothing left  that the world can teach you. I never want to reach this level of success in my life. What I believe is difficult to accomplish is remaining humble, open-minded, and successful in God’s eyes. How do I do this?

Find the beauty in failure…

                Living in a country where “survival of the fittest” seems to be one of the underlying social modos has led me to believe that failure is not an option- that failure is a road that can only lead to destruction. But I argue that success can also be a road to destruction. Failure is hard to do when one cares; true failure comes only when the fear of failing keeps someone from trying. Nevertheless, falling short of accomplishing a goal is many times inevitable. But how can we be content with our failure?

                Feeling inept and unqualified is an immediate result of a misstep, but so is humility. Failure shows, not only that we are trying, but it also reminds us that we don’t know everything. This is incredibly important, in my opinion, so that we can live our lives knowing that there is always something new to learn, from either other people or personal experiences. The more we learn and dive into new discoveries and questions, the more we realize we don’t know. Thomas Jefferson, another great historical figure, once said that the more a person travels, the more unhappy they become because they realize just how small they are compared to the world, and how little they really know. Our founding fathers seem to have had their fair share of failure and of the feeling of inadequacy, something many people would not suspect because they led very successful lives. But I guess that’s just it- failure leads to a kind of success that is out of this world, not measured by money or power, but by the lives that you’ve changed, however big or small those numbers may be.

                Remaining humble while worldly success in your life becomes abundant is difficult. Failure then becomes harder to accept, but I think you should embrace it, learn from it, and treat it like a beautiful reminder that you are forever a student in this life. To build you up, God may tear you down first. Without failure, you don’t learn, and without learning, you don’t grow.


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