FAILURE! Everyone has experienced it in one way or the other. I experienced what I call one of my most unforgettable failures in pharmacy school. It was the greatest failure yet, but one of the best lessons I ever learnt. I chose to begin my blog post series with a topic on failure to remind every hungry soul out there that I too have been a failure and a very good one at it. Despite it all, I still believe I could and so I did.
Remember, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns! ~ Allison Gappa Botke
It was the Fall semester in 2011 when I started facing academic challenges with this very unpopular course commonly called Pathophysiology and Pharmacotherapy (PPT) in pharmacy school. You know that one course in school, which is so overwhelming that you study your entire life away and actually feel good about the exams, but you end up not making it? Yep! That was me like every couple of weeks! Lord knows I studied my heart out for this course just to “get it” but NOPE! Nothing happened. Considering the fact that this course was very fundamental to becoming- and practicing as a pharmacist only made me wonder if I was even cut up for this. After the sweat and tears put into studying, I still failed! Mind you, failing this one SINGLE course costed me an entire year in pharmacy school. Now, anyone who knows my academic capabilities since childhood will be shocked to hear this – I repeated a class for the first time ever in my life. Good Lord, I was devastated! I felt the pain deep down in my soul! I was building all my hopes on becoming a pharmacist and they all came crashing down. I had all sorts of thoughts running through my mind – my parents just wasted all the money they spent on my tuition; my friends and classmates are leaving me behind. I felt like I was a failure as a daughter, friend, sister and to those who looked up to me. This failing thing felt so horrible that I wish I never existed.
Meanwhile, the people I thought I let down were stepping up as my source of encouragement. My very dear and gracious parents stepped in and reminded me of my achievements so far. They made me understand how strong I am to have come this far; they helped in restoring my sense of value and purpose. My parents lifted up my spirits. Even though this was a financial loss to them, they made me realize why it was necessary to fail and encouraged me to learn from my mistakes, pick up the pieces and keep moving. I vividly recall a discussion I had with my mother during one of my many low days: “my baby, I have never known you to be a quitter. You have always been a fighter. What happened to my hard-working and ambitious little girl?” my mother said. It was then that I realized that I was slowly giving myself to failure and therefore losing my identity in the process. My mother may not know this, but that was my wake-up call and those words still play in my head whenever I face any challenge. From then on, I decided to see failure as an opportunity; I decided to appreciate the feeling of failure and make the best of it.
When I got admitted into pharmacy school, one of my ultimate goals was to attain a dual degree upon graduation; I wanted to get a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) alongside my Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. I never saw a possibility of achieving this goal without staying an extra year back in school (believe me, I wasn’t pessimistic, but the set-up of the pharmacy school curriculum didn’t leave any room for extracurriculars). So here I was trying to figure out how I was going to do an MBA by the end of pharmacy school and behold, that opportunity was right there in front of me. I came to a quick realization that my failure was truly an opportunity in disguise (even though I would have initially wished things to play out differently). Now, my next worry was if my parents were willing to pay an extra year’s worth of tuition. They encouraged me to pursue this degree and assured me that they will cover all the costs. I gladly enrolled for MBA courses and eventually worked with one of my professors who was also introducing the dual PharmD/MBA program in my school – ladies and gentlemen, I became a pioneer graduate from the PharmD/MBA program of my school!
Failure has taught me very hard but sweet lessons. There are many things that I wouldn’t have appreciated if I didn’t fail. Prior to this experience, I was always afraid to fail, but now I embrace failure and make the best of it. Dealing with failure is not easy at all; I don’t think I would have ever made it to where I am today if I did it alone. This brings me to asserting the importance of having a strong support system. It could be from loved ones or a higher power – I was/am lucky to have both. I am Christian, and I look up to God as my ultimate source of support. I had to establish a certain relationship with God through His word and I found so much comfort in Him. I also came to realize how God blessed me with a wonderful family and very supportive friends and mentors, who have stuck with me through it all. My parents have supported me through every little failure in my life from not winning a gift at a birthday party as a kid, to staying back one year behind in pharmacy school. They have led by example and I am here today because they showed and taught me what it means to be persistent. I have brought these values along with me as I have advanced in my professional career and other miscellaneous pursuits. I have learnt to never give up! I have learnt to never be afraid to keep failing until I succeed. I hope my story encourages someone out there who has failed and is discouraged. Failure is good depending on how you look at it. If there is one thing we can gain from failure, it is the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Despite the failures we experience, let us never forget to look better, feel better and do better.