I want to share a story, so hopefully it doesn’t end up being too long since I know most won’t bother with a long post, but this is one of those moments that deserve a little time.
As most of you know, I’m currently working on my Bachelor degree after years of choosing to work and mostly fucking around. In this chase to finally attain my degree, I have found myself in the wonderful situation of being able to study abroad. As I sat in my apartment at UC Irvine contemplating a possible pivot point to expand my life, specifically my college experience, I began to consider studying abroad. I was studying German for the language requirement, but because of my degree in English, an uncertainty of going to Germany to study felt incredibly distant. After much contemplation I boiled down my choices to two locations: Auckland, New Zealand and Berlin, Germany.
Both offered vastly different experiences that would give me a deeper and richer sense of being, but I couldn’t decide because New Zealand offered peace and natural serenity and Berlin offered a unique challenge of needing to learn a language faster and an abundance of youthful activities such as clubs and an endless list of festivals. So as is my way when it comes to meaningful and possibly life altering decisions, I flipped a coin. This leads me to the purpose of writing this.
On Friday, after completing a second round of an intensive language program, we were finally able to sign up for the language courses that we’ll be taking during the Winter Semester. I stood in front of the board that held our recommendations for which level we should probably take and when I found my name, instead of listing a level, it simply said “Beratung” (or counselling). I was flustered because these levels were supposed be recommendations by our teacher, but that seemed to not be the case. I spoke with my teacher about what he recommended I do, as I assumed they said beratung to imply I should speak with my teacher, and he said he didn’t know. So I followed up with what his assessment of my language skills were and the crux of what he said was that I had a large vocabulary but I didn’t know how to utilize it properly. I sorta chuckled and said, “As it is with life, right?” He didn’t seem as amused as I was.
So after this interaction I went to speak with the person behind the registration table and it ended up being the teacher that would be teaching the class I wanted to sign up for. He said he wanted to speak with my teacher as the paper had suggested and so I complied. They spoke very briefly, and as is my way of pretending I know much less German than I actually do, but the heart of the conversation was that my teacher felt it may be too difficult for me because he’s a good teacher and I didn’t get A’s on every test. They both looked at me and my future new teacher looked at me and asked if I knew that it was going to be difficult. I said yes. Then my smarmy current teacher said, “And you’re okay with failing? Because it’s going to be hard and more advanced…” and without skipping a beat I replied, “Yes.” He looked shocked and asked again, this time with an inflection, “You’re okay with failing?” and again I replied with a firm “Yes.” He just said alright and walked away and my new teacher seemed to relax a little and we spoke about the class in a little bit more length, as he told me about a couple of resources I could use to help me in his class.
This is where the story ends and an explanation on why I wanted to share this story begins. Failing, despite what most schools and people would lead you to believe, is never an option because it’s always a plausible reality. We can no more control success than we can avoid failure and pain. This, however, provides an experience that is innumerable and empowering. A parallel that I often make to myself is with life and death. We know we will not live forever and so a majority of life is spent on finding various ways to live. If I know that failure is inevitable, then it pushes me to want to learn as much as I can in the process of it. To experience all I can, to learn all I can, and to love the moments that will make up this failure. There is no need to despise a defeat because victories feel better. We only need to love and embrace the understanding that once we are victorious, we move onto the next failure. We move through our own evolution focusing too much on the outcome and minimally bearing witness to our greatness and the exponential experiences. You, my friend, are great. You, my friend, are loved. You, my friend, are a beautiful failure. Now go live.