When Failures Fail to Crush

In the span of two days, I found out I have been eliminated from a competition (that I was so sure I would go farther) and failed to get in a not-so-tough-to-get-in exchange program to Thailand. This is not alone as it follows a series of failures since the beginning of this year! One of my new-year resolutions is to get into an exchange program to abroad, and here’s how it went so far:

  • Japan: somehow forgot to click send the already-prepared resumes and application, just to found out about it later after the deadline
  • The Netherlands: applied after the deadline
  • Europe: half-way done with the application just to find out they only accept disadvantaged students this year
  • The Presenter 2015: 4th runner up!
  • Springboard Speaking Championship 2015: failed at the 2nd round
  • Thailand: was not selected, not even reserved

(Updated as of Dec 24, 2015)

  • Japan-JENESYS 2016: failed. Didn’t even get shortlisted, and literally tore my short shorts in two in the process of submitting the application.
  •  YSEALI Environment 2015: I was all hyped up, planning for it, and got informed that it has been canceled this year. There would be no more of this program forever.

What a blow to the ego.

However, surprisingly, instead of being devastated and hopeless in life, I felt refreshed. I felt…. lighter. Having been mulling over why this is the case for a few days, I think I have come to a tentative explanation for this unexpected lightness and dare-I-say liberated feeling from these supposedly crushing failures. It’s best explained by Erin Hanson (thepoeticunderground) in her poem, View:

“The moment that you’ve been knocked down,

Is the moment that it counts,

And the moment that you’ve lost yourself,

Is the moment that you’re found,

You can see the world much clearer,

When your eyes are filled with tears,

The only way to not be afraid,

Is to learn to face your fears, (…)”

This is what I want to share to you guys, failing is good. Failing is addicting, even. After you have cried, the sky looks a bit clearer. After you have failed, all your egos, and high expectation, high pressures you put upon yourself are also gone. You realize that you are not that invincible; you realize you are… human after all. Welp. 2015 is ending, I’d better make that resolution come true! Watch out failures, mama is comin’!


(Updated as of April 7, 2016)

  • Applied and got shortlisted to the interview round of SEALNet’s Youth Leadership Summit 2016 (YLS16) just to find out that we need to pay our own airfares (I am very broke) and fund-raise a certain amount of money to get in. Therefore, I had to reluctantly forfeit the position.
  • Applied for Young, Wild, and Living Green in Vietnam weeks before the deadline. Neglected to check my email for five days straight for no good reason, and missed the email that says I got shortlisted. Sent them a last-minute plea, and got offered a slot for interview the next day, though I had to confirm that very night. Guess who slept through it all, and just found out later (very late) in the morning? Yup. This girl. However, with a lot of sorry’s, I managed to get interviewed, and guess what? YUP!!! I FINALLY GOT TO GO TO AN EXCHANGE PROGRAM!!!!! THANKS FOR BEARING WITH ALL THIS DRAMA. *bows*


(Updated as of July 7, 2016)

  • Applied for YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Environment 2016. I  had sent in the application one day before the deadline, yet didn’t receive any note of confirmation. I e-mailed to ask for the confirmation a few days later, got no reply. A few more days later, I asked again, and apparently, that was the first email they’ve got from me. I was told to send in application again (7 days after the deadline) and that probably played a part in the failure. Another way to fail!
  • Applied for  Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program 2016. I got shortlisted and interviewed and failed! There are rumours of corruption, but I guess bad luck and incompetence played a part too. Welp, there are still time!

(Updated as of September 10, 2016)

  • Failed Asia-Pacific Youth Dialogue Forum 2016. No excuse. I just failed. Haha.
  • Failed ASEAN Youth Forum 2016. Also no excuse. Just plain failed.
  • Got into Mekong Friendship Project 2016: Culture through the River Flows! I actually thought it was another failure since the announcement date had been delayed without my knowledge. THEN, the news hit when a friend mentioned me, and yeah, I was over the freaking moon! What made this 10x sweeter is that for their application essay, I actually wrote a quite MsCheng-ish article (read it here) for my experience in Hoi An through the first exchange program I got in! I didn’t expect them to select me with this kind of out of the box, non-acedemic writing, but alas!



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2 thoughts on “When Failures Fail to Crush”

  1. After reading this, you make me feel completely moved by your failure. OH NO, this is NOT a failure,sis. This is what makes you stronger than ever! And honestly you inspire me MORE than ever Before by this piece of writing!! What I keep learning from you is nothing is easy to get without strong dedication and efforts. YOU ARE AMAZING AND INSPIRING! Keep going! And I am sure one day you will get it all! 🙂 Best luck,sis!

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