Hey, people of Mastodon! One of my friends just failed a class (after working her ass off to pass it). She's feeling pretty low, and wondering what's going to be open to her now. I've reassured her that failure is not the end of the world, because I failed, but I'm not sure she believes me.

If you've ever failed at something, big or small, only to succeed later, would you mind sharing your story? I want to show her it's okay.

Boosts welcomed. Thank you!

cw: mental health Show more

@hafnia I didn't study IT at all at GCSE level (typ. age 16), then studied and failed IT at A level (typ. age 18) TWICE, and within 3 years after that I was a professional programmer. That was a decade ago. I'm still a professional programmer.

@hafnia More recently, I was fired from what I thought was my dream career working in motorsport. Since then, I've had more time with my friends, I now work in better environments with better teams, and as a nice bonus I'm earning more money.

I still have exactly zero formal qualifications relevant to any of the jobs I've ever done.

@hafnia I know I'm a cishet white dude which might well make this sound a lot less meaningful, but some of my most incredible colleagues have come from all sorts of different demographics, and many of them are far more brilliant and successful than I while being every bit as unqualified, even those who are from groups who are normally considered very disadvantaged like trans (mostly MTF) and PoC.

@hafnia The difference between a novice and an expert is that the expert has made far more numerous and damaging mistakes. Take it from me, a recovering perfectionist: serious failure is part of life. Failing a class teaches something more valuable than passing it, if you're paying attention: what it feels like and why, and what kind of emotional fortitude is necessary to recover from it. I'm not going to tell you it doesn't matter; I'm telling you you'll soon find out for yourself.

@hafnia I went back to university full of enthusiasm to study maths, and then did *terribly* at it once I reached 2nd year. But now I'm doing a PhD heavy on modelling, so eh?

I failed a class in my undergrad.
Now I'm on a scholarship to do my PhD. Your friend may not have an interest in postgraduate studies, but it sure isn't the end of the world either in or out of academia

@hafnia Hello! I failed a lot of classed. I failed a lot of grades. I had to retake 3 years in a row. But now, i'm finally in year 2, and i've got good grades. It just took a little more time for me to get on my feet :)

@hafnia Oh my gosh, I’ve tanked so many things! And I’m an astrophysicist! Seriously, remember it’s all a learning process. Just make sure to identify what you messed up on and vow to improve. Little by little does the bird build its nest!

I fail all the time. Sometimes daily.

We can't know everything right away, and personally I learn the most through failure. It let's you know where to focus next.

I started a 5 year uni degree in 2011, and graduated from a 3 year degree (one half of the first one) in 2018. It didn't look like the path I'd envisioned starting out, but I ended up in a place I wanted to be and the journey inspired me.

I think your friend should be proud of the effort they put in 🙂 Because trying it's what's important.

And hey, I managed to have spectacular failures in learning to walk and read, but ended up fine, haha

@hafnia I failed high school physics but now I have an engineering degree with first class honours (and then some) 😊

@hafnia I got a C in intro psych, and Fs in two other university subjects. And then a PhD in psychology.

Then I couldn't get a job in my area of psychology, so I started doing the thing I could get a job in. I discovered I'm good at it, enjoy it more than my original area, and people pay me well to do it.

It's ok.

@hafnia I failed a history class so badly that I switched schools and majors. Turns out that was a great choice. I've been working in the same field for 25 years now, and haven't grown tired of it yet.

This was me with the foundations of engineering class I failed! No regrets :)

@hafnia I fell for white nationalism's bullshit for about a decade, decade and a half maybe depending on when you start measuring.

It's hard as hell getting out of that tar pit, and I fucking hate myself for having fallen for it for so long, but I'm doing better and getting further from it every day.

@hafnia And yeah, it's a bit of a heavy thing in comparison to classes? But I'm living proof that you can fail pretty damned hard and still keep goin'.

I'm sure she'll find something to grab on to. School's the best time in life to experiment and find something you love to do, after all!

@hafnia I had to drop out of high school because my mental health hit rock bottom. I went into work starting with tough entry level retail, then call centres. These days I'm working some pretty high-flying IT positions, helping and advocating for minority groups every chance I get, and living comfortably with an adorable dog, kind partner, and cosy house in a quiet corner of Scotland.

Your education doesn't define you. :blobheartcat:

@hafnia I failed repeatedly for a long period of time learning to put ends on network cables. It's tedious and tricky. Honestly didn't think I could ever do it. Just a couple months ago a very kind colleague (a cabling guy) took the time to teach me his tricks. Few times have I ever been prouder of myself (and thankful) when in the course of a couple days I made several cables. EPIC WIN. Never give up, but don't be afraid to ask for help, too.

@hafnia In my first three months at Amazon, I took down for twenty minutes.

They didn't fire me.

Failure is sometimes the fastest path to learning, and learning is the best long-term path to success.


@hafnia almost 14 years ago, I got kicked out of college, and was one fight with my parents away from being homeless and jobless. Well, I had that fight. With the help of my friends, i was able to get some where safe and had a place to live where i could finish growing up, and now I've been working professionally for 10 years in my chosen field, and I have a house. It didn't happen how it was "supposed" to, but it can still happen anyway.

@hafnia I failed all but one of my second-year college computer science classes leading me to drop and never returning to complete my computer science degree.

I did eventually get a degree, in philosophy, from a small liberal arts school. Oddly, I found the study of ancient and medieval metaphysics vastly more helpful with learning how to program than any of the computer science courses I failed.

The change didn't really impact my career trajectory, but it did keep me from being myopic.

@hafnia I got fired from a teaching job 3 months in, but had to finish my contact, so I was stuck another six months. It was pretty awful, but it got me rethinking my career, applying tu grad school and now I'm not afraid of much professionally - I know I can bounce back.

@hafnia I once failed a philosophy course that was part of my degree. After that the university cancelled the course because everyone else coming in from my discipline struggled with it too. Sometimes, it's not you.

@hafnia Hi! I've got a bachelors' degree in cabinetmaking i have yet to use in any meaningful capacity in 10 years. Employers were hesitant to hire an overweight woman for physical jobs, so I found other things to do while losing weight safely. I learned to sew, since sewing is really just carpentry with flexible pieces. What you're learning could be applied to other things, even if the immediate road is looking dim.

If you feel this path is not meant for you, it is okay to find another!

@hafnia I do wish you the best in your courses, and I hope you get the career and position you desire. But failure is not as deadly as you think. There's always a path onwards, and some people take sudden career changes later in life. It's okay! You don't always have to be "going somewhere".

@hafnia 1/
When I was looking for my first serious job after graduating, I found an interesting posting by a startup, applied and had an amazing Skype call with one of the founders a few days later. She told me they were very interested, so I had a meeting with another founder. She was pretty happy as well, so they hired me.

@hafnia 2/
Two weeks of joyful anticipation later, I had my first day there. Two days later, tehey decided I wasn't a "good fit", even though they couldn't point at anything specific. I felt pretty bad for about a week, then started applying for other jobs again, while it took me a few more weeks to somewhat get over it.

@hafnia 3/
Long story short: In the end, I ended up with a job that paid more, had more interesting challenges to offer and provided more development opportunities. Furthermore, I ended up with better colleagues (obviously :D) and even shorter commuting times to get to work.

I don't want to get too specific, but something remotely similar happened to my wife. For her, it was even better, as she ended up pursuing a new carreer that suits her a lot better. :)

@hafnia I had a chance to become a world class drummer. An ad asked for beginner to intermediate players, and I applied. I got the job, and spent the next 6 months in hell. The guy who ran it was the most pompous arsehole in existence. One of my "jobs" was sorting out his music library. At one point I thought he planned to ask for a blowjob. He didn't thankfully. He was too busy blowing himself constantly.

Anyway, while I was at this place I was expected to practice my drumming 4 hours a night (first off, that is hell on the hands), and secondly of all they changed teachers on me 4 times. When one wasn't happy with my progress, he'd palm me off to the next guy. Problem is they all had different styles of playing, and I was expected to just switch on a whim after having learnt half of the previous one.

Suffice to say, they made the curriculum impossible, because they just wanted to get rid of me. The ad should have said advanced, because I could not have learnt any faster than I was, and it's clear they didn't want beginners at all (I say beginner, but I'd been playing a couple of years) Sufficed to say, I was pretty pissed. That studio no longer exists now, so I guess I got the last laugh.

The pompous prick even rang me up years later telling me "you borrowed the complete series of the X-files and you never returned it". I never borrowed it. I've never even seen more than 4 episodes of the show.

I had a real go at him and I said "If you're such an amazing hotshot drummer, why is it that all you do is teach music? I don't see you on the stage performing." Then I told him to go fuck himself, and hung up. No replies. Funny that.

Still can't stop feeling like I failed myself in that instance, and it still kinda bugs me.
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