The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
With all the anger and pain I accumulated over my lifetime, I wrenched my hand into a fist and launched one devastating punch at my demonic reflection. The mirror shattered on impact, spewing out shards of glass in every direction. After a moment of silence, reality cleared my mind. My head dropped, and my eyes narrowed in on my hand now covered in blood and regret. I can’t do this anymore! The anger burned my throat as my mind screamed in agony. I want to die.
My junior year of high school was suppose to be challenging, according to every parent and teacher who I talked to, but I never expected it to turn out the way it did for me. The start was just how I expected, stressful but manageable. Then, in the second semester of my junior year, my stress got the best of me and my life crumbled before my eyes.
It started in Pre-Calc, I hated the class to begin with, but I pushed myself through the first semester hoping that Calculus would be more enjoyable. My goal from the time I was in eighth grade was to take calculus in high school so I could be one step ahead in college, but things weren’t looking up based on my performance in the classroom. It took me one test to realize that I was completely and utterly unprepared for what was to come.
Physically exhausted, my expectations I was setting for myself were influencing my behavior. The days dragged on, and nobody was there for me other than my family and Vicky, my girlfriend. Practically every other day I was having a severe panic attack which made me start to miss school. I sank deeper and deeper into a pit of depression and anxiety as I fell behind in my studies. As my self-esteem dropped my views on my life did as well. With nothing going my way it seemed like I was getting in the way of everyone else around me, dragging them down with my sorrow. I felt like running away from everything was my best opinion, but I knew it would not help me in the long scheme of things.
In my parent’s eyes, the next step for me was getting help. They looked into every possible therapy and counseling center they could. They began to make a binder full of medications and doctor recommendations. Nothing was off limits if it meant helping me find inner peace. By the end of April, I had visited the emergency room three times to be in a safe environment opposed to my bedroom where I had the privacy to suffer alone. I can still vividly remember the high-tech hospital beds that smelled like freshly washed laundry. It made me feel comfortable amid the chaos. After that third visit, my mom sat me down and through tears, cried “There is a spot that just opened up… at the Center…for Mental health… and if we respond today, you can get help there.” Is this the right thing to do? What if… I didn’t know if this was a positive step to take or not, but I reluctantly agreed, “I will go, it’s for the best.” I wanted to stay in the comfort of my home, but I knew I couldn’t get better without some drastic change in my life. No matter how hard I tried I could not break free from this feeling of worthlessness, I needed something new, something different.
At the Center, my life was completely different. I couldn’t open a door without asking a superior.Cellphones, shoes, or contact with anyone on the campus was not allowed. I met others in various states all trying to find themselves and change their outlook on life. The first night there I sat listening to a girl scream herself to sleep while a group of leaders tried to help her remain calm. In the back of my mind, I still hear her cry for help when I think about the Center.
Looking back on my experience, I reflect on the good and the bad that came from being admitted to the Center. Talking to the friendly faculty, I was able to better understand how life would be like after I left the safety of the Center. Although I hated every moment away from independence and my family, I’m grateful for being able to participate in the program. I will especially remember the group decisions I was a part of where we learned how to use skills to control stress in our life. If it wasn’t for my decision to go to the Center, I’m not sure if I would be alive today.
Today I still deal with stress and anxiety, but I have experience, family, and skills that I have learned to help me successfully control my anxiety. It was hard to realize that anxiety is something you can’t get rid of, but I know that by changing the way I think about situations I can not just handle adversity but excel in it.
One of the many skills that I learned at the Center was mindful thinking. That means being open minded and focused on positive thoughts. To do that you have to first be honest with yourself. For me, that meant realizing that I have weaknesses. I am not perfect. Then you share these observations with others and develop a plan to get better. Personally, I talked to my parents about these areas of difficulty and developed a plan to make these weaknesses, strengths. Finally, you act, fail, and progress. College will require me to use mindful thinking because there will be stressful scenarios. I will stumble. That is the truth, but I know I can persevere and grow by overcoming these challenges.