40+FAB Blog

Don’t call me a failure

No one wants to be classified as a failure as most of our societies place a stigma on the unfortunate soul that has been labelled as one. The topic of failure is not the idea of a conversation that most people care to have; in contrast, they would rather explore their more sterling achievements. 

As a child at primary school in Nigeria, I noticed that failure was frowned upon. Pupils were punished for not knowing the right answer. I hated art classes because the art teacher was always poised and ready to dish out his punishment to the one who failed to sketch the bowl of fruit ‘right’. 

Parents were not that supportive either, and I knew of some children who would cry profusely and dread going home because of an ‘F’ on their report cards. The view we developed on failure was that it must not happen, and when it did one felt so low, dejected and condemned. 

A strong impression was created in my mind that teachers and parents were immune to this thing called failure and I just couldn’t wait to grow up to attain this invincible status. 

I developed a fear of failure for the obvious reasons like most other people. If failing is to fall short of an attempted, expected or desired achievement, then, to be afraid of failure is to be afraid to try again. This fear makes expectations and desires of achievement burdensome. 

Failure should not be as demonised as it has been because it is a very important part of learning. Rather than stick to the defence of “Don’t call me a failure”, we should be glad to be identified as a failure at something because it shows that at least we tried.