-Courtesy of Flickr user Alan Levine

College is a time in many of our lives where it appears we can’t afford to fail. Failure has always been seen as a negative trait in American culture. Even at the very beginning of our lives, the thought of winning at all costs has been ingrained into our minds and that failure, by any means, shows that we’re either weak or incapable of success. While failing at a task, a class or even a relationship might feel like the end of the world, rising from your failures like a phoenix from the ashes truly shows a strong sense of character and perseverance.

We, as a society, need to understand that failing should be seen as a good thing. Not only does it show character, but it also shows us exactly how we need to improve ourselves.

Many famous explorers, scientists, celebrities and athletes have at point in their lives failed at doing something. Oprah Winfrey was seen as a third-rate daytime television host before giving that up and starting her own network. Neil Armstrong crashed airplanes and prototypes for the Apollo 11 missions before he walked on the moon. Even Lebron James lost in the 2004 Olympics and in the 2015 championship game, yet he’s still seen as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

What many of these individuals have in common is that they were relatively young when they began their careers. Although Neil Armstrong was only 39 when he walked on the moon, he had relatively little space flight experience when he was selected in 1966 and was seen as a liability due to a failed bombing campaign when he was 22, during the Korean War.

Just because you’re starting a career very young doesn’t mean you have to negate the idea of failure.

As young people become more anxious about entering the job market and the enormous amounts of debt they have to handle, I think we need to come around to the idea that being young just means you’re starting as an empty slate. The more you experience life, the more likely you’ll be able to learn the lessons from your previous mistakes. Failure shouldn’t be seen as “not an option,” but rather as the option that betters you as an individual for quite possibly your entire life.

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