The Failures that Formed Me

It's funny the things we want people to know and the things we choose to keep to ourselves. If we think about it, we are more defined by our failures in life than our successes. 

So, this blog is dedicated to just a few of the major fuck ups I've had in life and the amazing places those failures have brought me. 

3. The time I got rejected from law school.

Most people know I'm a lawyer, and why wouldn't they? It's one of my greatest "successes" in life. But what most people don't know is how close that dream was to not coming true. 

Every year, aspiring young wanna be law students apply to law school. I had applied to mine and had been waitlisted at most. I had applied to the law school associated with my undergraduate school as a safety school. It was a guarantee, just in case the others fell through.

So, you can imagine my dismay when a rejection letter from said safety school slid into my campus mailbox my senior year of college. "We will appeal it" my favorite professor said when I interrupted one of her meetings in tears. And appeal it we did. Now, appealing a rejection from law school is much like appealing a court case. It requires papers and oral argument. 

My oral argument portion consisted of a round table meeting with three professors and myself who proceeded to ask me questions about why I should be let into the school, going through each indiscretion during my undergraduate career, including dress code violations, in school suspensions, nose ring demerits, and the list went on. (It was a pretty strict school, ok)

There is nothing like being forced to convince a group of strangers how amazing you are to either crush or catapult your confidence. Lucky for both the school and myself, they did change their minds and accept me. I went on to win a national arbitration competition, a regional trial competition, edit for the legal journal, serve on the moot court board, and even serve a semester as President of the Intellectual Property Society. In sum, law school was amazing. 

The point is, before getting that major failure notice in the mail, my law school had been my last choice. My safety. But after earning my spot there, it became my only desire. I was so proud to be a student there, when I graduated I bought a signet ring with the school crest to commemorate that pride. (I still wear it btw). I earned my spot in that school, and I never took a single day for granted. I thought I would never overcome a bigger failure. Until the next major fuck up, that is. 

2. The time I failed the bar exam. 

Of course, the failures didn't stop with law school. There's a reason my Instagram says I am a "Boston loving New Yorker" and every year I drape myself in Pats gear for the Super Bowl. Ever since I was a freshman in college I knew I wanted to move to Boston.  It was my dream city. The perfect blend of history and modern age, Boston was the first place I knew I was meant to be.

So when my final year of law school approached, it came as no surprise to my classmates that I applied for the Massachusetts Bar Exam. I had been working remotely for an attorney in Boston my last year of school and had even made a contact at the prestigious Ropes and Grey law firm, nestled at the top of the Prudential Center. The ducks were in a row and waiting for me in the Common, and at last my dreams were within my grasp. 

That is, of course, until I decided to lay by the pool with my, then girlfriend, all summer and NOT study for the Massachusetts Bar Exam. 

Exam day came. The Hynes Center filled with budding young Bostonians, and I was one of them. Or rather, I thought I was. 

It wasn't until a few months later when I received the rejection letter in the mail the I realized that dream would never come true. 

The good news is by then I had already secured a job on Park Avenue with a securities and investment fraud law firm. The bad news? I lived in New Jersey and hated both my job and my life. A situation which would quickly be remedied by my biggest and finest failure in life yet. 

Had I passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam, I would have probably packed up my things the day I got the letter and left. And what a turn of events that would have proven for my life. 

1. The time I almost moved home. 

That girl who kept me from studying for the Bar Exam wasn't exactly a great influence in other areas either. But more than that, she was downright abusive  and cruel. During our three and a half years together she had choked me, cheated on me, called me worse names than I could ever repeats, slapped me, and sexually assaulted me. And do you know what it took me so long to leave?Fear of failure.

I had invested so much of my precious time and energy into this person, the idea of selling the remaining stocks seemed like it would all be for nothing. And so I remained. Waiting for some return on my investment, waiting for the stock to rise. And guess what . . . It never did. 

Finally, I left. I moved into a small room in West New York while I collected my life, or what remained of it. After a week or so, I decided to move back to Virginia. Most of my belongings were already back there, I had no friends in New York and my relationship, the entire reason I had moved to the area at all had failed. Miserably.

When I told my boss at yet another job I hated that I planned on leaving, he offered me a raise to stay. I went back and talked to the people I was living with, called my mentor in Virginia and my family. And you know what they all said? They said if I came back now, I would regret not trying. And so, I had exactly one week to find a place to live. I had planned to move back to Virginia and now I was moving to New York City. Alone.

I moved from West New York, New Jersey into West Harlem on June 29, 2017. My 27th birthday. That morning I rented a haul and spent the day driving to various apartments in response to craigslist ads for free furniture. I unloaded the pieces I had scraped together throughout the day and with the drop of my naked mattress on the wooden floor, I was home. The rest, as they say, is history. 

That relationship was perhaps the biggest failure of my life, and quite frankly, the absolute darkest time of my life. And I am so grateful for every single day of darkness. Because if I had not failed so miserably at that relationship, I would not be where  I am today. Literally. 

Failure offers us two choices: Stay down, or get back up. And as the wise sage Alfred tells us in Batman, "Why do we fall? So we can learn how to pick ourselves up."

So, the next time you are afraid of failing, don't run away or cower in fear at the idea of it. Instead, spread your arms and prepare yourself to meet failure head on. Because from failure, comes our greatest successes in life. 

Leave a comment