A STORY OF ONE FAILURE
And so the story continues :) Start here
College days… a lot of good, and a lot I’d like to pretend never happened😂 I won’t tell you those stories but I will tell you this one. It’s a story of how I let one failure define who I am for more than two years. I want to share it with you because maybe the lessons I learned from this experience will resonate with your experiences too.
Everything Was Good...First
I was finishing my junior year at Texas State university. That year, I was feeling on top of the world! I was taking a full schedule of classes and had good grades, I was a Southland Conference Champion several times over, I was working a part time job, I felt like I was making some friends and fitting in. (I had transferred after finishing my first two years at South Plains Junior College, Levelland TX).
Life Was Beautiful!
I had that euphoric feeling of self-respect for being so productive. I would wake up at 5am, ride my bike through the hills of sleepy, humid, beautiful San Marcos, park the bike and walk to my job. I was an international student, so I could only work on campus, and the best on-campus job was working at Starbucks :) So yep, I was a barista for 6 months! After work, I had back-to-back classes, after which I would go for track practice and next I would do homework. Sometimes I would go out with my super-hot and funny roommate or friends from classes. Life was beautiful.
As the end of the year approached, I was considering summer internships in my major, Marketing. I wasn’t very knowledgeable yet as to how the “Job” system worked, after all it was only my 3d year in the US but I tried to attend all events concerning internships. My main motivation was money, making as much as possible over the 3 months of summer.
One day during our class, a recruiter arrived with an “Amazing Opportunity for Select Students to make Thousands of $$$ during summer.” Already sounds scammy, doesn’t it? I was such a naive dove, and my head started nodding, “YES PLEASE.”
After a round of “interviews,” I was selected 😂
A Slumdog Millionaire Moment
It was a typical marketing pyramid door-to-door scheme - recruit as many students as you can, promise them easy money, brainwash them with an intensive 5 day training program, (which they pay for themselves (!)), make them feel like they are going to be champions and the job was an easy job for them to do. Then kick them out on the streets to knock at closed doors. Have you seen Slumdog Millionaire? It was like that, except you were brain-washed to think that you WANTED to do this and you would be such a loser if you didn’t perform.
After training we were stationed in a suburb of Cleveland and stayed with a nice family there. Our schedule was a bit like this: Wake up 6am, do a few minutes of “team-building” activities outside and then at around 7am me, my bike, and my encyclopedias to sell (which of course were MORE than just that😂) were dropped off at a suburban street until around 9:30pm when I was picked up. That’s one, long day.
Have you ever done door to door sales? Have you ever been rejected 100 times a day to your face day after day? I hope you never experience what I experienced. If there is one sure way to destroy self-esteem, that’s it.
It was SO quiet. You could only hear the distant sounds of traffic, birds chirping, some random car passing by, your bike pedals. You wore your long shorts, uniform t-shirt, and a cap to shield from the sun. Sometimes it was raining and you had to get your plastic coat out. All you saw were long rows of closed doors in front of you. A row of doors you had to knock at, give your memorized spiel while beaming enthusiasm and geniality. Sometimes you were politely refused, sometimes not very politely. At 12:30, you took out your PB sandwich you brought with you in a plastic bag, and ate it on a bench while trying not to feel sorry for yourself.
Slowly it dawns on you, that you are not going to sell any stupid books and if you sell, it will not be nearly enough to even cover the expenses you’ve already spent on this “Amazing Opportunity” but you cannot quit, because they have already convinced you that quitting is for losers and you are not a loser... Or are you?
Making Myself Sick
So I spent a few weeks in such a miserable state and since it often rained, I finally got sick, tried to go on pretending I wasn’t sick, ended up going to Emergency and finally, flew back home to Russia feeling like a complete disgrace. I think I sold maybe 2-3 sets of books in total.
My self-esteem was shattered, I had officially proved to myself I was a loser! I started to question my decision-making abilities, I was so deeply ashamed for being a quitter, I couldn’t look people in the face. My grades went down, my mood was sulky, and my track performance deteriorated.
You see, when I was told that I’m special and selected for this job, it matched with my inner ideas about myself, so it was easy for me to believe them but when, (according to the employer’s beliefs) I was proved a quitter = loser, I believed that too.
Getting Back to “Me”
It took me TWO years to pull myself back. I’m sure this experience hasn’t and wouldn’t affect all people the same way as it affected me, but I am a deeply responsible, sensitive, and honest person and to let people down, let myself down in this was soul destroying.
What It Taught Me
The experience also taught me some very valuable life lessons:
- First obvious lesson, don’t do door to door sales😂 Unless, you have a strong internal drive to do so.
- When choosing to do something, rely on inner motivation and not external stimuli, so if you fail, at least you have enjoyed the process!
- Sometimes quitting is the right thing to do.
- Failing does not make you a loser. You calling yourself a loser makes you one, because your own perception of yourself is the only true perception.
- Confidence in yourself is a self-fulfilling prophecy and the opposite is true too.
- Don’t let people tell you how you should feel or be in any situation. Only you have the right to decide that.
- Do not let failure define you.
I'm happy to look back at this period of time now from a position of calm and humor. A lot of self-work went into the ability to do that because events by themselves really don't matter, it is how we interpret those events that does and that interpretation is everything!
Well, that's all I’ve got for today :)! What experiences in your life have taught you valuable lessons? Maybe my story reminded you of something that has happened to you too? Let me know in the comments under my posts on Instagram @GoBangles!
Also do subscribe to my email list below, I email 3-4 times a month with self-care and styling tips, as well as exciting secret sales🤫🎁
PS Naturally I deleted all photos relating to the experience haha so I added some photos of me from around that period :)