Sophomore year of college, arguably one of the most stressful. You are no longer a freshman, you can no longer use that excuse. Professors expect more of you, you have to figure out a major, and the work is piling on. It seems as if the rest of your life depends upon this year. If you don’t start a routine of organizing your time, getting your work done, and (most importantly according to everyone you seem to talk to) getting good grades, your life is doomed. You start to depend your grades on whether or not you’ll get a job rather than whether your parents will punish (i almost typed punch… oopsies!) you. Sophomore year is the perfect analogy of how much we dwell on our choices now because we think they will ruin the rest of our lives, how much we base our lives on failure.

Yeah, some choices are bad ones. Sometimes it is difficult to turn them around, not impossible… but difficult. But I think we forget that the free will we possess to make mistakes, also exists to turn them around. When I was younger, skipping treatments would mean I would be in the hospital frequently. My pattern of hospitalizations was so common, that I expected that my poor health would never turn around. I saw those hospitalizations increasing. But look at me now, the frequentness of such admissions is now less than what it used to be. Those decisions I made to skip my treatments when I was 10 were indeed STUPID, but that doesn’t mean I have to keep making them.

I forget who gave me this advice (probably my mom) but she said, upon stressing about a middle school bad grade, “In 5 years, this isn’t going to matter.” And she was right. I went on to get better grades, to forget about that slip-up, not to dwell on future bad grades, and lo and behold I graduated high school. While some problems or mistakes seem like the end of the world at the time, you have the ability to assess their true effect and to use the way it made you feel as motivation to turn it around.

Perhaps we aren’t perfect. No, we definitely aren’t perfect. We have to work extra hard to be perfect, so we have to give ourself forgiveness when we we’ve done everything we can and still aren’t seeing results. Life is long and filled with opportunity. Strive to be the best, but in the meantime, don’t beat yourself up when you’re not. Chances are, if its really bugging you, you will find the motivation to do better. Use your failure or disappointment as a catalyst for change.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He did eventually learn to speak and read. Even to do a little math.

An expert said of Vince Lombardi: “He possesses minimal football knowledge and lacks motivation.” Lombardi would later write, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.

No one said life is supposed to be easy. In order to succeed, we must know how it feels to fail.