Dear Asian Youth,
We are taught at a young age that failure is bad. In elementary school, we were told that it was okay to make mistakes, but as we grew older, that margin of error became slimmer. We were told to enjoy learning, yet to fear the prospect of failing because of bad grades. So what was the point of tricking kids into thinking they could fail gracefully when in reality, all we do is fail gracelessly?
As a kid, I would do addition or subtraction wrong and feel minimal pressure to perfect the concept then and there. My teacher would scoot next to me and use a whiteboard to show me the method to a correct answer. Instead of reprimanding or disciplining me, she would simply guide me to success. But that changed in high school. Somehow, as we get older, we are forced into environments where the absence of learning and pressure for high marks co-exist. Asking for help almost feels shameful because we feel that our inability to process the material quickly makes us inferior.
If high scores equate to intelligence, are we expected to be born perfect? The thing about mistakes is that even if we hate losing or being bad at something, we should give ourselves the room to stop. Just stop and ponder about the material. Process and analyze the material without worrying about getting 100 on your test. I know it’s easy to say, “just forget about achieving good grades and focus on the importance of learning!” I can’t ask you to do that because I strive for perfection, too. But, at the same time, I know my limits. I know that sometimes I have to allow myself to be helpless and to get that bad mark: there’s no way to be at our best constantly. It’s human to fail. Mistakes make us human, and ignoring the fact that we can lose our composure is harmful. As much as I dislike feeling helpless, sometimes, it’s inevitable.
Cover Photo Source: Salesforce