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Why It’s Okay to Fail

[This article was written by a 15 yr old - we think it's unmissable! - ACS]

Epic Failures

Thomas Edison was told by his tutors that he was “too stupid to learn”. Joanne Kathleen Rowling’s books were rejected 12 times by publishers. Walt Disney was fired from his first job as he was told that he “lacked imagination”. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as she was told that she was “no good at presenting”. Charles Darwin dropped out of medical school and university, and never received a degree. The list goes on...

There are also countless inventions that have been invented by mistake, from penicillin and post-it notes to chocolate chips and champagne. They started as mistakes but ended up as the best thing since sliced bread!


To all the people receiving their GCSE, BTEC, T and A level results, it is important to remember that grades aren’t everything. We all understand that many people will be disappointed with their exam results, as it can be truly gut-wrenching when something which you have put years of time and effort into doesn’t go to plan. But remember to take a step back, and look at the bigger picture as, although it might not seem like it at the time, exam results really don’t have to dictate the course of your whole life.

Changing the story

Not doing as well as you had hoped doesn’t mean that you are stupid or that you didn’t work hard enough. There are many much better ways to measure hard work and intelligence than by counting a number of ticks on a piece of paper. At the age of 16, Albert Einstein failed the entrance exam to go the Zurich Federal Polytechnic School, and yet we remember him as one of the most intelligent people ever to have lived. Intelligence isn’t the only characteristic worth measuring either – there are many much more important personality traits such as kindness, thoughtfulness and determination which should be valued just as highly, if not more highly than intelligence. As Winston Churchill once said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Even if you are disappointed with your exam results, remember that it’s not the end of the world, and how you cope with that disappointment is far more important than the results themselves. Someone who has failed but has persevered at something is much more admirable than someone who has never failed. If people never made mistakes, then they would never learn.

What's next?

So remember that Thomas Edison, who was told he was “too stupid to learn”, was one of the most successful inventors and has acquired a record 1,093 patents. Although JK Rowling’s books may have been rejected 12 times by publishers, over 500 million copies of Harry Potter have now been sold. Walt Disney, the man fired because he “lacked imagination”, started his own animation company which has been at the forefront of entertainment for over a century.

Although Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job because she was “no good at presenting”, through her talk show, she has become one of the most influential people in the world. And even though Charles Darwin never received a degree, his book “On the Origin of Species” has shaped modern science and enabled many scientific breakthroughs. These are just a few examples of people who have overcome failure. It really is okay to fail.

I'll be sitting my exams next year. I will be reminding myself of this message then.

All best wishes,


[Sophie's message is being forwarded by - psychology to support young people]

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