When Someone Tells You that Sometimes, Failure Is Better Than Success

All my life I have been taught that when you have the job, when you have the money, when you have the cars and the house, you are successful. Why, who wouldn’t want to be a millionaire? I wanted to be a millionaire so freakin’ bad (hi Bruno Mars) ever since my mother ranted about we had nothing to eat but canned goods. I wanted to be rich so that I could buy a house like those that my elementary classmates/orgmates have. And then here, I attended a “talk” where this guy told us about his failures and someone else’s failures. In a snap, all my beliefs were gunned down by this guy and made me realize thatsometimes, failure is better than success.

When I was old enough to choose my own path (by this I mean choose the course), I followed what my heart had been telling me–be a teacher. Even though I knew by then that the salary of a teacher was (and is) low, I still continued taking that path. And here I am, a 21-year-old graduating student from the college of education. Who wouldn’t want to see his/her priority status in CRS as “graduating”? The question is… Am I successful? Have I proven enough?

I had my practicum in UP IS just a few months ago, and some of my students asked me “ma’am, why do you teach math?” I answered them, “Because I love math”. Unsurprisingly, and I was afraid that someone would ask me this, a student questioned me back, “Why do you love math?”

Why do I love math?


I could’ve answered, “because math was easy for me way back in my elementary and secondary education” and then they would just ask me “why” all over again. But…

I looked at math very differently in college. It almost made me cut off my head.

Way back in high school I was known for being a grade conscious student. That was how I maintained my high grades. I cried for an 85, questioned a 90–grades that some of the students would like to have, but not me. I studied hard to get high grades, and fortunately all my efforts for those sleepless nights were awarded for I was the fourth honorable mention in our batch. But I knew the journey didn’t end there. I studied real hard for my first semester in college and yahoo–college scholar. Although during the second semester, I failed to be a CS because of my 2.75 in math 53, though I told myself that I will get my “dignity” (yes I called it dignity) back for the next semesters.

AND THEN DUN DUN DUN DUN. 5.0 in my math 55. I lost hope. My dream to be a cum laude was swept by the wind. I blamed that teacher who used a projector in teaching us triple integrals, gave us examples, explained it like reciting a paragraph and there goes an exam and I would have the face of the fffffuuuuu meme in 9gag blah blah. It felt like real hell when I received my first 5.0. My mom cried (?) and thought about my transcript of records. I just told her that I would still have the chance next semester, but who was I kidding?

I almost surrendered and wanted to shift to a major where there was a bigger possibility that I could graduate with an award. I was really tempted to do that. But no, I did not. Shift because I failed one subject? Let go of my dream to be a math teacher because I failed a subject?

So to push myself to continue this, I forced (yes you read it right) myself to think that my transcript of records do not define who I am. Time passed by, I had two subjects with a grade of 4.0, the rest of my math subjects had a grade of 3.0. Nothing beats the happiness of a math major when receiving that grade in a not-so-easy subject. Believe me, we treasure 3.0s, begged for 4.0s. But more than that, those subjects made me change the way I think. It was likeunderstand the concept, take the exams… did you pass? No? Find out your mistakes. Did you pass the course? No? It’s okay, take it again. Did you pass now? Not again? Why do you think? Because you do not understand the concept… Very well. Take it again until you understand.

Maybe in that part of my life, I proved that, sometimes failure is better than success Like what Farid (the guy) had told us, Einstein lived his life not getting stuff. He had so many questions in life, even some answers were questions too. He did not aim for the applause of people for having an answer to a question, but aimed for answering the next question. My lapse was (and I could honestly say it was my fault) that after receiving a 5.0, I did not push myself to study more than what was taught because I was afraid of another failure that could give my parents a heart attack.

Anyway. Like what he told us, “Math is not about getting it, it is about not getting it.” Maybe that was what I loved about  math. It made me suffer (I’m not in a sarcastic tone, those people who attended the seminar know what I meant). And how could I forget Markley’s food for thought, “In order to heal a wound, open it and clean it. Putting a bandaid immediately wouldn’t help.”

Some people strove for failure, and when they fail, they would start searching for answers. When they find it, they would go further and search for another failure again. Etc. It’s like push-ups. You can say that you have become stronger not by maintaining the number of push-ups you do but by exceeding the number of push-ups you are limited to do. I dunno, though try watching The Three Idiots. It’s a good film by the way.

One thought on “When Someone Tells You that Sometimes, Failure Is Better Than Success

  1. “I looked at math very differently in college. It almost made me cut off my head.”

    Grabe! Same, Ate! Nung Elem at HS, feeling ko sobrang talino ko talaga sa Math tho hindi ako graduate with flying colors~ basta! Feeling ko matalino na ko. HAHA!

    Pagdating ko ng College, BS Math ang course sa PUP (di umabot sa Accountancy at Banking lol), nawala lahat ng pinag-aralan ko. Back to zero ako sa Math, ganern. Nagkaroon ng 5, ng Withdraw, nawalan ng direksyon sa buhay (charot). Naisip ko rin mag-shift pero di ko tinuloy. Siguro gusto ko talaga ng Math, nawalan lang talaga ako ng gana mag-aral. Gusto ko ulit mag-aral pero nananaig yung dapat may trabaho kasi walang pera XD


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