I’m failing (and why that isn’t so bad)

When I graduated from college in 2009, I had a dream. I was going to live in Chicago, get a job at an Architectural firm, and work toward my license. Then after 3 years (license acquired), I was going to move to Italy, Rome perhaps. Probably rent a nice little villa or apartment. Here’s what actually happened: the economy tanked, I couldn’t find an architectural position, and I moved to Florida. In terms of achieving “my dream” I failed, BIG TIME!  I received this article in my inbox titled 9 Reasons Why Failure is Not Fatal and the 9th example was a commencement speech given J.K Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series). Here’s an excerpt:

“…failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena where I believed I truly belonged. I was set free…”

Had I successfully made it to Rome with an architectural license in tow, here’s what I might never have done, at least not in the near future. I might not have made the decision to switch to graphic design. It just wouldn’t seem practical, after all that work towards becoming an architect. Granted, some people still think I’m crazy, I did complete 5 years in my college’s architectural program,  but this switch isn’t so strange. I’ve ALWAYS loved art. It was the class I lived for in high school. I excelled in my other classes because: 1. I don’t like to fail (oh the irony) 2. Great grades = great college + scholarships 3. If you don’t like the class,  why blow it off only to have to repeat it;  the list goes on…

So why become an architect, since I love art so much? Don’t get me wrong, I do love architecture as well and again it seemed practical. The impression I was given growing up was that to be an artist, you had to be struggling or starving (very cliché). Little did I know of graphic design. I do know though that if I had continued with architecture that I would have tried to put myself in the positions where I could work on the graphics (building renderings/illustrations) and interactive installations.

If I had a chance to do it all over again, would I do it differently? Probably not. I’m not saying life’s been a bed of roses since I made the switch. There’s a lot I need to teach myself and I’m still looking for more stable employment (anyone know of a paid graphic design internship please let me know or if you need some work done, let’s talk ). However, success extends beyond what you do. The relationships I’ve made at college are priceless. Some friends are more like family and my future children already have weekends booked at their future homes. I wouldn’t have met them if I had gone somewhere else and that would’ve been tragic. Also the people I’ve meet since moving to Florida have made a huge impact on my life and I’ve grown so much closer to my actual family here. You just can’t make the same connection in Italy through Skype.

So this is failure. I’m dealing with it, learning from it, and hopefully becoming a better person because of it.

Please check out 9 Reasons Why Failure is Not Fatal and here is J.K Rowling’s full speech.

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145 Comments

  1. planetmd

     /  September 23, 2011

    nice post. very inspiring. nothing is impossible, if fueled by lots of determination to succeed. kudos to you! hope you find your fulfillment and happiness in your chosen career.

    Reply
  2. Calame

     /  September 6, 2011

    Superb post, please do issue more posts.

    Reply
  3. lifespelledout

     /  September 6, 2011

    I can easily see how J.K Rowling could inspire someone when they think they’ve “failed”. She’s truly an underdog story seeing as how I think I read that she is the first female author to become a billionaire. That excerpt from her commencement speech is something that I’ll have to remember because it really does make a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  4. Sometimes we learn the hard way “Failure is an event, not a title” (Some never learn this)

    And we learn the most when we have to fix problems, not study success.

    Reply
  5. Thanks to everyone who responded to this post. I appreciate all the positive comments and the ones who shared their stories as well.

    Reply
  6. Very inspiring. I like J.K Rowling’s speech.

    Reply
  7. I had planned to move to NY after school,but I ended up traveling instead and now I’m living in Sweden. Maybe it’s not so much failing, its adjusting. Maybe that’s success too? =D

    Reply
  8. Wonderful posting. I have somewhat of a similar story. I had my heart set on law school and D.C. since grade school, but in my junior year of college at Lehigh, I began to think differently about what it means to be happy and successful. I graduated in ’08, had a surgery, and started my job search just as the economy tanked, so no corporate job for me. I also decided not to go to law school because so few law grads are getting jobs, and there seems to be a shift away from the partner track (lots of money) towards the career track (a decent living) – yet no shift away from the debt track. In early 2009, I started an online editing and proofreading business, and to be honest, I couldn’t imagine myself being any happier. While my business is still in its infancy and I’ll probably never make partner-track money, I’m no longer doing what “society” thinks highly of… I’m doing what’s right for me.

    Reply
  9. i feel like a big fat failure at times. didn’t go to medical school and become a doctor. but if i had, i wouldn’t be working in biotech and met my husband through my job.

    Reply
  10. You are not a failure. You just changed direction. I can relate to your story so much. I studied and became an interior designer. I worked at a large furniture dealer and in my passion. I found happiness, total complete satisfaction in a job well done. After years of dedication to this career, 20+, I was laid off with a downsize. That was a year ago.

    Now an unemployed interior designer who still loves design, I found myself reinventing my career. The economy is a disappointment, but I must survive. Today I am a freelance writer. It’s not much, not the glamorous job of design but I’m learning A LOT. So when you say, failure, you must look at with different eyes. You love art. You are an artist. Design, architect, graphics, these are elements of art. Stay positive.. Be blessed.

    Reply
  11. My story is much the same as yours, having achieved a 5 year professional degree in architecture and having completed 2+ years of the IDP; I lost my job in the industry and tried in vain to find another for close to 18 months. Since I have always defined myself as an Architect and could never think of being anything else, the non-essential has been stripped away, and I have rededicated myself to achieving my goal. I have started my own Design/Build firm using a contractor’s license as a stop gap until I achieve my architectural license. I promise you, it will be those of us who are willing to work hard at there dreams that will be the economic engines of the the future. I just completed my first paid project!!!!

    Reply
  12. It must be nice to fail to somewhere warm and sunny LOL. Great story

    Reply
  13. haha, good stuff

    Reply
  14. Congrads on making FP.

    Reply
  15. Awww… this is really inspiring and I also have big plans in my life too. But, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to reach it or my expectations would lead to nowhere. X( I am embarking to finish (SOON) my college life and in less than 3 months time, I don’t know what to do. I’m an interior designer wishing to have a successful career, good life, and become known as well (haha)! However, due to some circumstances, I sometimes feel that I am left out as my other design friends who are ahead of me have reached their peak and established themselves already. Sometimes, I lose track and just feel, often, sorry for many things. I think the problem is with me despite having many achievements as a student in my life. Why is that so?

    Reply
  16. This is so inspiring and there is no failure as long as you try. If you learn from your failures you have not failed at all. Thank you for reminding us all that life is unpredictable but as long as you learn from your experience and keep trying your are on the right track. I love your post! I have failed but I try not to repeat the same mistakes and fear is not an option when you are trying to make it though life. Go for your new dreams and you will make it far you are too driven not to.

    Reply
  17. If you are going to “fail” fail forward! And you have!

    Reply
  18. i love this article. and i dont think yours is failure. it’s just another option which leads to another life, probably success too. and you might still have a chance to continue your Rome dream. life has never a never. the only thing which really matters is no matter success or failure, do not lose the view along the way you go 🙂

    Reply
  19. Hayk

     /  August 16, 2011

    Hey,

    Your story rang true in my ears. Not only because I failed number of times and still do, but because I blog about failures as well.

    Have a look at “my first big failure” post where I tell a story of how I failed first time in a big way.

    http://fail92fail.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/my-first-big-failure/

    and also the below to show why failure is the only path to success

    http://fail92fail.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/why-failure-is-the-only-path-to-success/

    Lastly, well I started another experimental blog, which is by the way since today morning part of the Post A Week 2011 challenge of The DailyPost.

    http://101press.wordpress.com/

    Good luck with job search!

    Cheers,
    H.

    Reply
  20. The “me” 10 years ago would see me now as a failure, married with 2 kids living a new life in the middle of nowhere so that my husband can further his career. “Me” now sees someone that I never expected to exist, but happy to have found.
    I think failure can only be measured immediately, by someone yet to see how different their future will or can be.
    Success in your endeavours

    Reply
  21. Thank you for posting this really inspiring speech of J.K. Rowling!

    Reply
  22. Bizarrely I did the same thing (sort of) – I was set to do physiotherapy, but as I’d set sail for a different country without my parents being within ‘jailing’ range, I basically decided to switch to graphic design as well. Completely freaked my mom out 🙂 But as you said, I too wouldn’t be where I am had it not been for my career change!

    Reply
  23. Great post. Congratulations for having the courage for following your dream!

    Reply
  24. ptagirlunscripted

     /  August 16, 2011

    To me, failure is only an option when you let it become part of your vocabulary…

    Reply
  25. Rimmy Barakoti

     /  August 16, 2011

    Sometimes failure is inexorable. Wotever u did was gud.

    Reply
  26. I tried doing teaching after my Bachelor’s because they say those who can’t do, teach but I really disliked the classroom aspect of it. I’m OK with one-on-one tutoring though. So I went and did a Master’s in Publishing and Communications and managed to get a writing job. It’s not working with books like I wanted but all I have to do all day is write to the corporate briefing.

    Reply
  27. eddy2525

     /  August 16, 2011

    Of course failure isn’t fatal for failure is nothing more than the simple act of stopping or
    giving up. At any point we can resume once again (should we choose to) and once
    that’s done then ‘failure’ becomes nothing more then a temporary layover… 🙂 – eddy

    Reply
  28. I’m glad that I decided to look through the Freshly Pressed blogs and clicked on yours. This is very inspiring! I’m just about to embark on my ‘second half’ of the college experience (aka Master Degree) and I have no idea what comes next and I know I’m not alone when I say the idea of ‘failure’ scares the living crap out of me. But I’ve sort of been there before, I’ve waded in that big sea but then I read this post and it made the feeling lessen a little more because it just goes to show that even if you fail on what you set out to do from the beginning, you can also be succeeding on a different path that you never thought to look at. So thanks for sharing this post! Hope you find that stable graphic design job that you’re looking for 🙂

    Reply
  29. Your post definitely suggests to me that despite the unexpected twist and turns, you are on the right track. Not sure how it is ultimately going to manifest itself yet you are too smart not to achieve. Keep your hand to the plow and don’t look back with any regret.

    Reply
  30. Thanks for sharing your experience. Your may not be an architect but can be a graphic designer. It is still what you are looking for. A stable job is hardly come by in today situation. You can lost your job not because you do not have the skills because there are cheaper source of work force to take your job. Many of the skillful and experience engineering work forces in our end had turn themself to become cab drivers and security guards to meet their end needs.

    Reply
  31. hanamarie51

     /  August 16, 2011

    Phoenix rises out of the ashes!

    Reply
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