I recently had a job interview for a graduate assistant position that I totally bombed. I was super nervous and awkward, and I let my anxiety get the best of me. Also, it was a Skype interview so it was hard for my fabulousness to shine its way through the computer screen. I didn’t answer the questions the best way I could, and I was stuck for the longest on one question that I can’t seem to shake.
In interviews, the classic question to ask is “What is your greatest strength and what is your greatest weakness?” It’s easy to figure those out. If you’re anything like me, you spend a great deal of time over analyzing yourself. I’m pretty stubborn. I pay too much attention to detail. I’m really organized. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Coming up with strengths and weaknesses are pretty easy. Even if you’ve never had a moment of self reflection, it’s pretty easy to come up with something on the spot during an interview. However, my interviewers changed up the question and asked me, “What is your greatest achievement and what is your greatest failure?”
Picking an accomplishment was easy. Boom. Graduating college. However, coming up with my greatest failure proved to be more challenging. I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I would consider my greatest failure, more than the recommended time one should take to answer a question during an important interview. I ended up saying something stereotypical like I failed a class and felt like a disappointment. Blah. Blah. Blah. I wasn’t being honest about what it is I’ve truly failed at, which is a fair thing to do. Do you share your greatest failures with complete strangers… complete strangers who have the power to employ you?
Failures are a natural part of life. Life would be far too easy without some bumps in the road. Some of the best things in life come from failure. You’ve heard the classic Michael Jordan story. He didn’t make his high school basketball team but ended up being one of the greatest basketball players in history.
But did you hear about Colgate? When Colgate first began business, they thought let’s branch away from toothpaste for a second and sell frozen meals. Yep, you heard right. The company you trust to keep your teeth pearly white sold frozen lasagna, and it failed miserably.
The sales were absolutely terrible. It was poorly marketed and a disastrous idea, but Colgate is still a top company, and everyone buys Colgate to this day. They didn’t let failure stop them and neither should we.
In spirit of things not working out the way ya plan, I’ve compiled a list of some of my most significant failures and successes. Can you guess the which ones are which?
- Tinted glasses.
- Bangs in conjunction with tinted glasses.
- Going to a private university and not concerning myself with private university tuition prices.
- Graduating college.
- Quitting my job to devote time to another job which I eventually got fired from.
- Moving to San Diego.
- Applying to graduate school.
- Straightening my hair until my ends were fried.
- Junior year of college.
- Drinking to excess with my high school friends and leaving wildly inappropriate voicemails on Johnny McPherson’s* phone.
- Blaming my baby brother for breaking the picture frames in the downstairs closet and living with a piece of glass stuck in my foot for 30 days.
- Going to a College Republicans party.
- Hooking up with a member of College Republicans.
- Starting a blog.
- Taking an upper division anthropology course the last semester of college without any knowledge on anthropology.
- Going natural #blackgirlmagic.
- Attempting to dye my hair silver.
- Sticking five lemon seeds in my ears in hopes of growing a lemon tree.
- Auditioning for University of San Diego’s production of Twelve Angry Women.
- Studying abroad in Jamaica.
Could you figure out the failures from the successes? Granted, some seem more obvious than others, but in the end, I consider them all to be successes. Each event or incident shaped me into the person I am now. Even sticking lemon seeds in my ear proved to be a great lesson on not sticking lemon seeds in my ear ( and a wonderful anecdote).
I know it sounds cheesy, but think about it. Think about everything you’ve ever failed at. All of your regrets. Your bad decisions.
You’re still here. You’ve overcome it all. You didn’t let those “failures” ruin you, and you certainly didn’t repeat those failures again. So go out and fail at something. At least you’re doing something.
*Obvious name change to protect others from embarrassment.