The Stigmatization of Failure

Life is really scary sometimes. And our society and education system are set up in a way that your only goal is not to learn, to gain an education or even to have something to do. No, the goal is to succeed. To do well. To avoid failure. The grading system of schools is a measure of worth in a way, telling you how well you do at something, supposing you try. It does take effort to do well, but you don’t have to learn to do well. You simply have to memorize things and give the teacher what they want. Students are so plagued by this sense of having to get things “right” that they don’t care if they are learning something.

I’ve heard in a few of my different Sociology classes about this Stigma of Failing. We are afraid to fail and so we sacrifice our learning for an “A” in a class in which we had the potential to learn things about life and about ourselves and more. We’re afraid to raise our hand in class unless we are certain that the answer we are giving is right. If it’s not, we feel embarrassed. Due to this stigma, many of my Sociology teachers and others have challenged me to raise my hand anyways. The worst thing that’s going to happen is you learn something new from your failure. This happens in dance classes too. My beginning social dance teacher always has encouraged me to try hard things. He says, “The worst thing that will happen is you’ll laugh.” Eternal Salvation does not depend on a 4.0 GPA.

This semester, all of my Sociology teachers have really implemented this idea. They want us to learn to fail, so that we can succeed and actually learn something. So to do this, many of my assignments that I do won’t count. That way there’s room for me to mess one up or forget to do one. There’s extra credit in my dance classes to make up for missed things and even some of the assignments in those classes will be dropped.

I ran across something a few months ago (I can’t recall where) that really struck me as interesting. It’s a challenge of sorts that I wanted to take on. So why didn’t I? I’ve been too afraid to do it as ironic as that is. It sounds really hard and very much out of my comfort zone. The thing is, that’s the point of it. What is it? It’s called Rejection Therapy. The idea is that you learn to embrace failure and learn from it. Once a day for a set number of days (30-100) you do something that will result in rejection. It might be asking for a raise with your job or a discount at the store. It might be asking someone to do something with you or asking someone to do something out of their comfort zone for you. The rules are this:

1. A rejection counts if you are out of your comfort zone
2. A rejection counts if your request is denied
3. At the time of rejection, the player, not the respondent, should be in a position of vulnerability. The player should be sensitive to the feelings of the person being asked.

Terrifying, right? To play this game, you actually have to let yourself fail. Every day. I think it’s something my teachers would definitely approve of just because I would be learning something valuable. I’m still too afraid to do it. But I guess it can’t hurt too badly to try. Maybe I’ll start at once every few days and just update this post as I am rejected and try to be rejected. I think that because I’m in the Mormon bubble it’s likely that I will fail to be rejected at least a few times because people are so nice and willing to serve. Even last night at dance I asked huge favors of people and they were all willing to help me. (Next time I’m taking them cookies). Anyways, will you help me with this challenge? Join me and help change the stigmatization of failure?

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