Defining failure differently determines growth

By ReaganRosenbaum

Society today has come to a consensus that failure should be avoided at all costs. Year after year, the negative connotations start to grasp the word more tightly with each second, until it has become the thing people chasing success are most afraid of.

Kelsey Herrera ’26. Photo by CeciUrbanski

In reality, what does the word failure actually mean? While the Oxford dictionary definition states that failure is a “lack of success” or “the omission of expected or required rules,” what if failure simply means taking a “negative” experience and using those lessons to grow from the mistakes made in life?

For sophomore volleyball player Izzy Vlasek, failure means so much more than what societal expectations have made it out to be. “Failure to me is just a way of success,” Vlasek said, “you won’t grow if you don’t do something wrong first.” In the world today, countless people are so scared of falling from whatever pedestal they stand on, that to even utter the word would be like destroying everything they have worked so hard to build.

When these people fail, they have no idea how to bounce back from the situation because they have never known anything other than success. They begin to think that they’ll never be good enough just because they got one thing wrong. “In a game I use positive self-talk, because once you say something you believe it more,” Vlasek said.

On the contrary, some people embrace failure like a long lost friend. They accept it into their life willingly because along the road of like someone told them failing was the way to grow. “I was cut from my club volleyball team last year, and I quite literally thought I was bad at the sport and how I may never play again,” Vlasek said, “All I wanted to do was prove people wrong, that I was good and I could improve. I had this push in me to be better and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”

You have to lose a game to understand why winning feels so good, but not everyone can see the bigger picture. The positive benefits of learning from mistakes can outweigh the fear of falling short.

A positive that comes along with failure is the ability to look back and see everything that was done wrong. Oftentimes, humanity will look back at history as a way to see what must be worked on so the world is a better place for future generations. Athletes will look back at their past games or meets that didn’t go the ways they planned and use it to be even better.

“I think it’s a huge advantage to be able to use failure. Some people might just take something as simple as getting cut and use that as a way to say they aren’t good enough,” Vlasek said.

Paris wasn’t built in a day, and no one can expect to automatically be good at everything they try to do in their life. At the end of the day, it’s all about mindset. If one thinks they’re going to fail, then they will because they convinced themselves that they would never succeed. “A growth mindset is being able to take something that you thought was negative, and push through it to make it positive,” Vlasek said.

Life is all about going into new situations thinking that positive things will come out of the experience. It doesn’t matter if success is achieved in a few weeks with little to no hiccups, or if it took years to finally reach a set goal; a mile is still a mile, no matter how fast you run it.

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