I recently mentioned that there was potential for me to take part in a super exciting opportunity this summer, if I could succeed in getting it. That ‘it’ was a two-month-long paid internship at Penguin Random House. As you can imagine and have probably observed, I was overwhelmed and overjoyed to even get the chance to be interviewed, so that in itself was a success for me. I kept saying I didn’t mind if I didn’t get the place, and was happy to have the experience of being interviewed and generally going through the selection process. However, when the unwanted became a reality and I didn’t get it, I was smacked in the face by a wave of disappointment that I wasn’t prepared for. In the first five minutes of hearing the news, my head began to race with all the possible things I could do now. It was like a flickering slide show of positive moves, like looking for another internship or improving myself for next time, and radically negative ones that wouldn’t do any good whatsoever, like losing three stone or quitting my dreams of being a publisher altogether.
Once I’d got past the initial upset, I began to reflect on how I personally accept failure. I came to the realisation that I haven’t failed much in my life. I soared through primary school as the child that won everything, without trying much at all. High school was slightly more of a challenge, but I still finished it as deputy head girl and with the best results I could have hoped for. Whilst I found Sixth Form even more difficult, I still left with straight As and got into my dream uni. This all sounds like I’m bragging, which believe me, I’m not. I recognise this constant success rate as a great privilege, but it made the next part all the more hard to comprehend. I dropped out, and I had truly felt failure for the first time.
Looking back now, I don’t feel like this was a failure in the end. I’ve ended up doing the course I was destined for at Manchester, and I really really enjoy it. But the rejection from Penguin after a four month selection process has really sapped me of any confidence I had sort of built up. Its stupid, of course. Because I should be happy I even got into the last pool of people to choose from, but instead I am crying about not being the one they wanted. This whole experience has forced me to reflect and realise that I can’t get everything I want first time. This isn’t my primary school Christmas play, where I was given the main part for prolifically smiling all the time. I have to work for a reward, and that is what I intend to do.
I guess I wrote this post as a reminder to myself and others that failure doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is over. If anything, I’m taking this as a starting point for the next year of working on myself and creating more and doing more things that are purposeful and will secure something better in the future.