Encouraging Failure: Insights from 2017

Video games taught me that challenges will always come your way, and it’s easier to overcome these challenges if you just accept that you’re gonna have to face them sooner or later.


As video game characters and as in life, we will encounter problems. Whether they be problems with our personal journeys or our relationships, they are always bound to happen.

A few weeks back, I overheard my uncle talking about how nobody is safe from facing turmoils in life — the poor have a problem with making their finances work while the rich still have their own problems keeping their finances. When somebody you know (who seems to not have many problems) starts talking in such a way, it really creates impact. It hits home.

In this day and age of social media, it’s easy to hide your problems and curate what you show; it’s so easy to focus on ourselves and focus on our problems. Hearing that conversation was a reality check that despite not having everything and despite all the turmoils I had to go through in the past year, I still have some things that I am grateful for for the year that was.

Of Failure and Putting Others on a Pedestal

As a learner, I always welcome feedback. At the same time, it’s enough of a reason to create anxiety up my skin.

In a work-related assessment a while ago, I was given an unexpected advice by one of my managers – “Encourage yourself to make mistakes.” It was a reminder that in anything, it’s okay to fail.

Despite how cliché it may sound, we only truly fail when we choose to stop trying.

We are in a society where it’s so easy to shame someone who isn’t successful, but the truth is, nobody becomes successful after their first try. Real life isn’t like a fairy tale where you wake up the next day with all your wishes granted. The most successful people have tried hundreds of times, taking years of their lives before achieving what they have and creating impact on many.

My 2017 was filled with chances, failures, breakdowns, and a whole lot of trying to keep everything upright. Not exactly the most ideal way to describe a whole year. But the best part of it all is that I’m still here a year later. I’m still breathing.

A bunch of us early on in STORM, the company I stayed in for 2 years.

When I quit my 2-year old job on January 2017, I wasn’t exactly sure where to go. All I knew was I wanted to do more of what I know I’m already doing, which was writing. This also happened midyear — quarter life crisis was real for me, honestly. It came to a point where I just wanted to give up on everything and just wing my choices. It was basically a “Who cares?” phase.

It was also a year full of an agitation to prove to other people and to myself that I am good, and that I am successful.

This mindset was a mistake.

Keeping in mind what others think is in itself exhausting. That wasn’t my goals talking, that was my lack of self-esteem. It distracted me and derailed me, and I lost sight of the lessons being taught in every task I encountered. I was too occupied with the worry of wanting to please those around me. I felt insecure about how everyone else seemed to be doing better, physically, financially, and emotionally. (How ironic for someone who always encourages others to take care of themselves first before anything else.)

It sucks when you think so much about how people perceive you. It was a waste of time and energy, that I thankfully learned to later put into my work instead. It wasn’t easy but I was surrounded by good people who kept me in check. Oftentimes when you struggle with yourself, who you surround yourself with can be telling of how you can overcome such challenges.

Whenever I get the urge to compare myself with others, I simply remember that we are all different – our circumstances and adventures alike – and that it’s best not to assume we know what or how others achieved what they have in life.

Growth Pains and Learning Curves

Driving myself to constantly work brought a lot of anxiety, a lot of tears, and a lot of doubt. My mental health was not at its best because of this. It was also the very painful tradeoff for wanting to fast-track growth and leap onto success.

I had 3 different jobs (technically 5, if freelancing is included) that forced me to get out of my comfort zone and continuously adjust to what I delve into.

  1. My full-time job was for BPI-Philam then later on for Paper Shoot. Both jobs offered me new experiences while doing what’s already familiar to me, which is communications. Both jobs were short-lived, which made me feel a bit awful. For one, it didn’t look good on paper. Two, it made me think about how I failed in terms of committing to responsibilities. Later on, I realized that it’s not really about how long or short you were in it; a better measurement are your growth, the people you meet along the way, and the learnings you take with you once you leave.
  2. One of my sidelines was, unbelievably, a photography job. I’ve only dreamed of becoming a photographer, as I often did it just for fun. I was privileged enough to score an apprenticeship for wedding photographers, Toto and Nicolai. Some of the photos I took for them are below:

    Another thing is that my finances aren’t up there and I’m self-conscious about my equipment, but I was taught by my seniors that it’s not about what you use but rather how you use it. You can have a cheap and low-end camera, and still take photos as good as someone with a P65,000 camera. It’s about your point of view and making the best of what you can afford — funny how that’s also applicable for life in general, yeah?

  3. I’ve dreamed of publishing my own book since I was a teen. Last year, I decided that the only one stopping me from doing so is myself. Still in the middle of it, I was given an opportunity by marketing masters, Josiah Go and Chiqui Escareal-Go to edit their books.BookI’ve never edited books before, so it was really quite an experience for me. I got to learn about the technicalities of making a book, while expanding my portfolio and growing my knowledge bank about marketing. Despite how challenging it was, I’ve never been more thankful in my life. You can check out Principles and Practices in Marketing here, and Marketing Masters’ 8Ps of Marketing to be launched this February.

A ginormous amount of stress was the product of my agitation to see results ASAP – it came with all of the tasks I undertook. This process was not the smoothest but it was definitely filled with more lessons I anticipated, the biggest of which was realizing how much I am capable of if I push myself hard enough. It was also when I further learned that I am in control of what I choose to do and not to do, using it to better assess the direction of what I can improve more.

Seeing the Good in Everything

They said the bane of a quarter life crisis was hitting the age 25. I didn’t believe it when I was 24, thinking everything might just be an outcome of one’s decisions. However, turning 26 (I’ll be 27 this year!) I can definitely say that I have gone through such a crisis so sensationalized but for an actual reason that I can attest to.

Stardew Valley

In all the bad things we experience though, there’s always a takeaway. I’m going back to video games here, but we are only able to equip ourselves with better things after working through challenges that come our way. We all go through bad days — bad weeks or months even, it does happen — but what truly defines us is how we handle them. We can get beaten down and stay defeated, or endure everything and get back up to fight again until we get to the end. It really depends on what one chooses to do. That’s what makes the difference between failure and success.

In the not-so-good year I’ve had, I learned that the trick to surviving awful days all comes down to perspective — keeping in mind that there is good in the bad, that new opportunities exist in every failure, and remembering that you are not alone in your journey.

Looking back, despite ‘losing’ 3 different jobs in the span of a year, I realized I was still lucky that I never had to starve not even 1 day in those 12 months. Opportunities still existed even when I was struggling with imposter syndrome, and people still believed in me enough to give me a chance to be of service to them.

Yes, things will always go bad, but they will always get better, too. We just need to keep looking into the latter and focus more into what we can do better. Dwelling into what demotivates us is not only a waste of time, it’s also a way of surrendering good results. And whenever I feel the pressure of having to look like I have it all figured out, I simply stop and remember that there’s really no rush. Do what you do and do it well, and hopefully you can help inspire others along the way.

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