April 12th, 2017 is a day that could live in infamy for me. I could call it the worst day of my life. I could try to bury any memory of it into some deep, nether region of my subconscious. I could choose to remember April 12th as only being the start-date of the Civil War or Saoirse Ronan’s birthday.
Yet, as the one-year anniversary of April 12th, 2017 approached, I found myself thinking of ways to celebrate it. I found myself thinking of how far I had come in one year and all the ways I had improved myself.
You see, April 12th, 2017 was the day I realized I was failing.
On that day, at approximately 9:47 PM, I checked my grades and found two F’s, in Government and Business and International Development, staring back at me.
Now, I had known that I had done downright awful on both of the classes’ mid-terms, but the possibility of failing wasn’t real until that moment on April 12th, 2017. I was the smart kid, the kid who was labeled gifted and talented, the the kid who had once scored a 136 on a test that was out of 100. I wasn’t supposed fail. I couldn’t!
But, I was.
Naturally, this sent me into a panic attack.
A knot grew in my stomach, while my mind replayed over and over again the only possible outcome of my failure. My GPA would tank, which would cause me to be expelled from UMW, which would doom me to a life of homelessness. Life as I knew it was over. I wanted to vomit.
The next morning I did.
After this, I called my mother, sobbing, to confess my failure. I was expecting condemnation.
Instead, I received consolation. She told me that it was all right. She told me not to worry. She told me that everything would work out in the end.
Once our phone call ended, I still felt horrible. My mother’s support wasn’t going to get me out of the situation I was in.
But I got out of my room that day and into class, into the offices of the professors. I made a plan for just how I was going to tackle the rest of the semester and got to work.
For the rest of the of semester I kept working, harder than I ever had before. I studied for each class 1 hour, every single day. I almost completely transcribed my Government and Business textbook.
I still felt awful. Every morning, I woke up and vomited. But I kept working despite how much everything sucked and pushed through to the end of semester.
I ended up with C in Government and Business and a B- in International Development. I had passed by the skin of my teeth.
But more importantly, I had learned from failure. I had refused to let it conquer me.
For once, I had ignited and found my own agency.
Before April 12th, I was just passing through life. My life and college career so far had been insignificant. I talked often of my dreams, but I wasn’t really doing anything to further them or achieve them.
In the subsequent year, I began to change this. I learned of the resistance, that is, anything that keeps us from doing what we want/need to do, and learned to do battle with it. I learned that failure is only real if you let it be, that is, if you don’t learn anything from it. I finally began working hard for my dreams and moved further down the road to accomplishing them.
As I did this, April 12th, 2017 ceased to the day that I realized I was failing. It became the day I failed and then forced myself to decide what I was going to do about it. It became the day on which my life changed forever.
On April 11th, 2018 I found myself realizing this and thinking of a way to celebrate the anniversary and how much I had grown over the course of a year. During a late night session of data analysis, a thought hit me: April 12th could be the end of my personal year and April 13th could be my own personal new years.
April 12th would be Failure Day, a day to reflect on both my accomplishments and failures over the past year.
April 13th, would be Change Day, a day to act on these reflections and to begin the changes needed to further my goals.
My inaugural Failure/Change days in 2018, which occurred exactly a month before my undergraduate graduation, allowed for me to come to terms with my anxieties about graduating so that I could move into the next part of my life undaunted.
Now, on April 12th, 2019, two years removed from Failure day, I will look back and examine my life since then, the successes and the failures, in order to make the changes necessary to achieve my goals in the coming new year.
I hope that you can find a similar day in your life and do the same.