It’s OK to fail, because failure can help you find your true self and success

By Laila Joy Albuquerque, 17, HKUGA College

Secondary student Laila Joy Albuquerque, 17, discovers that sometimes you need to fail to find out your strengths, and that getting a bad grade is nothing to beat yourself up over

By Laila Joy Albuquerque, 17, HKUGA College |

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Laila has a whole new outlook on life.

After my Form Five final exams, my mother went to her first Parent-Teacher Day. This is because at the time my attitude towards my academics had become a cause for concern.

We entered the school hall together and joined the other parents who were busy discussing their children with the teachers.

When my mum’s turn came, I stood by as my teachers began to tell her one by one about how I hadn’t been reaching my full potential, about my disappointing grades, and how it would be hard for me to get into a good university.

Don’t focus too much on grades

When my exam results came out, I saw that I got a three for English Literature.

To be honest, I knew the low grade was coming, but I pretended to be shocked. My mum and I both cried, and I made the decision to drop the subject right then and there.

That day I became a quitter. My mother said I was a disgrace to the family. That was when it dawned on me that I had hit rock bottom.

Life should be about more than just studying and report cards

I wasn’t always like this. In my earlier school days, I would get a lot of A’s. English was my best subject. If I didn’t get the top mark in English, I would get really upset at myself.

My teachers must have still seen some potential in me, even though I saw none, because they said that I should take English Literature. I was hesitant, but at the same time I was convinced that English was what I was best at.

Looking back, I realise now that quitting English literature was not me being a quitter – it was me finally admitting that I had no passion for the subject.

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I was just trying to pass in it because I felt like that was something other people expected me to do. I avoided other subjects because I thought I wouldn’t do as well in them.

Thanks to this experience, I have realised that society has taught us to fear failure. We are constantly told to compete with our peers, and to be the best.

Some students might be so afraid of failing that they would purposely put down the wrong answers in their tests. But I know now that it’s better to try your best, and if you do fail, that’s OK.

Now, I tell myself everyday to just try to be the best I can be, and to not compare myself to others. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes you need to fail to find out what they are.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda