It was one lazy Sunday afternoon when I was sitting by the window, lost in my own thoughts. The silence was broken when my 20-year-old flat mate asked, “Do you think I will make 8 lakhs per annum once I qualify as an Actuary?”. The ensuing discussion revealed that he thought that this life is a definite game of input and output. If you do X, you will get Y. Not a surprising thought for a person of his age who hadn’t seen relatively much – the unpredictable way this life operates. I passed a big statement for a person of my age but who has read good number of self-help material and has keen interest in observing people sailing through their lives – “This life is unfair. Earlier you realize, better you will be able to handle the uncertainties that this life will throw at you.”.
This young chap’s thinking is a representative of a bigger, much disastrous understanding of the chemistry between efforts and success. We believe that if the work that was put in achieving something doesn’t yield the expected fruition, it was a total waste of time and energy and that the world is going to end. What is more dangerous is that this belief leads us to avoid calculated risks, overlook creativity, do something which we absolutely hate and the biggest of all – FEAR FAILURE.
This subject has been close to my heart because of the impact that it has on the youth’s mentality but never wrote anything about it until I watched the Bollywood movie ‘Chhichhore’. This is not a spoiler for those who haven’t watched the movie nor a review. It is a story of Anni, a young guy and his friends who want to break away from the tag LOSERS (as the entire college calls them) by attempting to win the annual sports championship. They have been underdogs and considered as non-competition for the coveted league. They try everything under the sun to win but lose. They think that they have failed but the spectators and the competitors applaud for their efforts and they are no longer called LOSERS. Anni is narrating this story to his son who attempts suicide because of having failed in an entrance test and is unable to cope up with the failure despite trying his best. This movie glorifies the hard work and commitment made to achieve success than success itself. This is the exact thing that this world needs to do.
It is not startling (you guys will hate me after reading this) that majority of us will not be able to achieve the biggest of dreams that we ever had. The numbers say it that most of us will live an ordinary life. Not all engineers will startup and raise billions of dollars of funding or work at Microsoft. Not all B-School grads will become consultants at the top consulting firms and solve the most complex business problems. Not all creative folks will become Justin Biebers, BTS, Alia Bhatts or the likes. Not everyone will find the love of their life. We will face bouts of bad mental and physical health. Some of us will be financially strained and not be able to live the luxurious life that we always dreamt of while some will have lots of money but meagre time to spend that money and moments of happiness with their loved ones. This means that most of us will experience more failures than successes in our lives. Even those who become big names will undergo brutal failure time and again before they make it the top.
We have misunderstood the definition of success and have glorified success in the manner which makes the efforts made to achieve success feel very little. Social media is flooded with stories of success. Movies contribute their fair share of magnetizing eyeballs to people who have achieved it. Yes, they do appreciate the struggle in achieving the success, but I have rarely watched any movie which ends with the pivotal character still having failed. No wonder people are resistant of an ending which is unhappy. They want the hero to win because their conscious doesn’t allow him to be called a HERO if he fails. He is a LOSER for them.
I am not against celebrating success. Successful people deserve their stories to be shared and appreciated but what equally needs to go viral are the stories of having tried and still failed. Stories of aftermath of having failed and how beautifully the person has handled the failure, got up again and continued striving for the goal. Inadvertently in worshiping success, we are ignoring most of the society who tried but couldn’t be at the forefront of success.
The true essence of life lies in standing in front of the mirror and telling yourself that it is ok, you tried your best and the next morning you are going to wake up and keep trying your best. Detachment from expectations of success is most crucial to live a happy life. And isn’t happiness the definition of success for all of us. Believe me, you will have more regrets of not having put in the best of your efforts than not having achieved the outcome.
Keep trying – Parents need to inculcate this culture in their sons and daughters, friends need to encourage this, and teachers need to educate kids to never get bogged down by failure. We need to raise a generation that is not fascinated by how good a person looks on Instagram but with what he eats and exercises to look so attractive (excuse the filters please!). I feel proud of myself of having tried irrespective of achievement of the goal.
The kid in the movie asks his dad “Despite of trying so hard, you guys failed. Did you feel like killing yourself?”. The father including the friends replies “No”. Not all of us face the failure so gracefully.
As a millennial trying to figure out the purpose of life, I am confident that many of us in our late twenties would have started giving up on the dreams that we once held so close to our heart. We are giving up on our MBA dreams. Some of us no longer want to pursue music because of the financial insecurity that comes with it. We no longer paint because there isn’t enough time. Why? Because we never explored because of the fear of failure or even if we tried, we quit too soon because we felt disgusting of having failed, let alone others tell you this. These experiences should be considered as learning.
Don’t be dead human due to fear of failure. Make sure you don’t quit. You never know that an extra mile can help you reach our goal.