Failing, to Succeed

(hint, it’s all in the comma)

Aarish Shah


Headwinds or tailwinds? Depends on your perspective — Captured by me in PNG

It seems that everything at the moment must be world beating, world leading, larger than life, exagerated and bigly.

There is a very public (that’s private to all non Britishers) school sentiment and one that I am very well versed in.

At school, we were tested reguarly (certainly every year), and much pride was associated with busting through the 90% mark, much soul searching when Amit did better than me at English (I mean, really, Amit?!), and that’s before I even took the results home to my parents…

I mean the objective at my school was to be the best, win the house or the school tie, beat the other school in [pick a sport of your choosing], get accepted to the best universities, get hired by the best law firm / bank / auditor, have the house, the car, the wife and the 2.4…

Just. So. Much. Winning.

But what about that kid that didn’t get the numbers, didn’t score the goal, didn’t meet the cut? I’d love to say that they found their niche or figured out how to make the system work for them. I’d love to. But I can’t. Because the reality is I don’t even remember those kids.

What I do remember is this, I was someone that was wholly ill prepared for failure.

I still remember vividly the 3 times I ever failed an exam — a driving test, a music exam and my A-Level stats paper (thankfully this was back in the days when it was modular and I could retake it).

I didn’t know how to deal with what amounted to a huge amount of shame, with the quasi self loathing that ensued. It would make me angry, feel ‘less than’ and the need succeed had become so important that it almost became a defining part of my character.

And I look around today, at the relentless storm of “look at how successful I am” stories that social media and the press parade in front of us almost every day and whilst I still scoff at the need for some people to portray themselves in this light, I remember this one reality:

The truly successful have built their lives on the foundations of failure.



Aarish Shah

Generalist | Thinker | Life Long Learner | Writer | Photographer