Stay Whelmed: Failing well

 The Honors staff utilize examples of failure from a current sophomore Honors student, a Stanford football kicker, and Honors students around the room to address the process of accepting and growing from failure. (Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

The Honors staff utilize examples of failure from a current sophomore Honors student, a Stanford football kicker, and Honors students around the room to address the process of accepting and growing from failure. (Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

Many students, especially those in the rigorous Honors program, end up facing failure during their time at college. These failures can fall anywhere: the classroom, the workplace, or even in your personal life. On Friday, the Honors Program hosted a workshop on how to take these failures in stride and learn from them.

Fourth semester Individualized major Emilio Loret de Mola stood in front of a hoard of Honors students to talk about his struggle with failure during his freshman year. During his first semester at UConn, he eagerly joined as many clubs as he could. He spent most of his time participating in his excessive extracurriculars, trusting the approach to studying that he had used successfully throughout high school and forgoing sleep. By the end of the semester, he found out that his GPA had sunk to a 2.6, which put him in danger of being kicked out of the Honors Program and losing his scholarships.

In a panic, he spent his second semester holed up in the library. He went to the Academic Achievement Center, and had them help him to workshop his schedule to allow more time for studying. He ended up having to drop some of his clubs, but was able to fix his grades and have more time to sleep. Unfortunately, his newfound focus on studying made it so he never saw his friends anymore. He had exchanged failing in the classroom for failing in his personal life, and it made him miserable.

This year, he has finally achieved a balance and is much happier. After he told his story, he gave the students assembled around him a call to action: “Write about your failure, so you can deal with it and learn from it.”

After he spoke, the workshop turned to the idea of resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover from failure, and learn from it. According to this workshop, it is an ability that can be learned. In order for the audience to learn this skill, “Failure Resumes” were passed out. These resumes were separated into four categories: undergraduate education, high school education, work, and personal life. Audience members were meant to fill out a failure they had in one of these categories, the skills they learned from the experience and the “silver lining.” By filling these out, failure began to look less bleak and more like an important learning experience that can be looked at with gratitude.

“I liked learning about how to transition from a performance mindset to a learning mindset. And mistakes are inevitable and you can learn from them,” second semester actuarial science major Grace Lauber said shortly after filling out her own Failure Resume.

Once these were done, slips of paper were passed around for anyone who wanted to release their failure into the universe. Once a failure was written on the paper, it was crumpled and thrown to the front, where the speakers read each aloud. Sharing failures acted as a sort of cathartic experience.

“A lot of the time I think I’m a perfectionist and push myself too hard, and this made me feel that it was okay to fail,” fourth semester mechanical engineering major Veda Pandya said when asked what she thought of the workshop.

With so much pressure on students to be well rounded and successful individuals, failure can seem like the end of the world. This workshop proved that idea wrong. Behind every success is a hundred little failures, so when a failure comes your way, don’t worry. It will lead to great things.


Rebecca Maher is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rebecca.maher@uconn.edu.