I started off 2016 filled with excitement as I wrote down my five major goals of the year:
1) Obtain 4As for AS Levels
2) Score at least 1500/1600 on the SAT
3) Become Executive Director for the 24 Hour Race;
4) Pass my teaching-level piano exam
5) Get into the University of Oxford.
I ended 2016 achieving none of that. The first half of the year felt like defeat after defeat. I felt like a complete failure. Throw in a breakup from my two year relationship (I am a teenager after all) and you can probably see why I was mentally, physically, emotionally & spiritually a wreck.
After a lot of crying and feeling sorry for myself, I started re-defining what I thought of as failure. I realized that without those setbacks, I wouldn't have half the strength and drive I have right now; my ego would still be sky high and I would still be defining success based on materialistic achievements- which completely isn't the way i want to measure success! I started to think of failure as none other than a transformative character building experience. I learnt to embrace it and that if you let it, failure will be your most powerful teacher.
The same year of failures turned out to be my most accomplished year yet. But how is that even possible? I had failed to achieve all of my most important goals of the year! The truth is, me from a year ago would have never have believed you if you told me something better was coming my way. I usually don't like sharing my achievements publicly, but in light of providing a good example of how failure always puts you on a better path, I will.
Some of the things that I was proud to have done last year included spearheading a youth social entrepreneurship event in Singapore; attending a summer program in Cambridge on full scholarship; being Secretary-General of my school's MUN conference; organising the 24 Hour Race (Asia's largest youth led-movement) as deputy-director; getting a scholarship for a highly competitive research program from the United States; and writing a research paper on economic development which was later selected to be published in a research journal.
Magical transformations happen when you choose to learn from failure. Heck, if my year went according to plan, I wouldn't have known that I should be aiming to do more fulfilling things in life. Failure has taught me better ways to grow, learn, love and be kind- to myself and everyone else. It’s brought out the best and the worst in me and i am eternally grateful for it. Frankly, without my failures I wouldn’t be the person I am proud to be today.
It’s true I'll never know what life would be like if I did end up getting any of those goals but if there’s one thing I know for sure; it is that I am on the better path.