August 20, 2011

Failing and Being a Failure - they're actually both different.

Failing sucks and feels horrible. I failed my driving test yesterday. However, I'm trying my hardest to ensure that it does not get to me. Failing sucks, and part of the horrible experience is bashing yourself. Especially if you lack confidence, you can degrade yourself and become anxious. I remember two years ago when I received my F in studio. Emotionally and mentally, I was in a dark place. Reminiscing about that experience in the past - I decided that I did not want that to happen this time around. I'm kind of in a conflicted mood. Trying to keep positive this time and just move on positively, and the other side, i'm really pissed off at myself and my circumstances of why I failed. However, I'm currently reading Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and one of the most hardest things to accept when failing is taking the responsibility and not blaming your circumstance and others - ultimately crucial for success. To be able to find control in all aspects of life and not be dependent to the outside circumstances beyond your control. It's just such a huge pill to swallow.

After the test, I went to lunch with my instructor and we talked about our career paths and life in general and he gave me some words of advice (Oh yeah, btw he's an Alumni from my school...different programs):

  1. - You need to fail in life to grow. Many people tend to just keep climbing up in life, however if they never experienced failing in life - they won't know or have a clue on how to easily get back up. The fall will be much steeper. That's what many successful people do - they accept failing, reflect and improve on it.

    Actually, I recall something I learned from counselling when I was struggling in previous years at school. The topic was about avoidance - we as people tend to avoid whatever makes us anxious, worrisome, or stressed (this was me three years ago when I dropped my courses, unable to manage my time, busy) - however running away just makes the problem much more worse. (this is where I failed studio). The only way to decrease the mess you made is actually by going through the anxiety, the worry, and stress (in my case the hard work) and beating it down (it'll take more effort and time - but that's they only way - going through the experience and grow)

  2. There's a difference between failing and failure. Failure means that you're unwilling to try again, and you allowed failing to defeat you. So you aren't a failure - (you just started improving your driving and you just need to keep working that muscle/skills.)
I do not know how many or if people have looked down on me through my undergrad from failing. But at least i'm breaking the barriers to have some balls to fail and shatter fear of failure.
I'm gonna keep my head up through this, through my university career, and improve.


  1. hi,
    beautiful post, i am a struggling archi student myself. although i hav to say i've never hit this hard rock bottom in my education. unfortunately my worse year is my 3rd year, where my grades are important in deciding whether im applicable 4 masters.... always hav passion for designing, but my grades is letting me down...and now my application status is pending:( this post gives me hope to look at brighter things...hope everything works out well for u bro..

    1. Hello Anonymous

      Thank you for the comment.

      I'm actually enjoying life outside of school. I've attended many workshops to hear from people that grades do not mean anything with regard to the abilities of a designer. I hope I'll post themes about grades in the future.

      There is still hope. If your grades are not necessarily on the strong end, you have to make sure that the other aspects of your application are just as strong - Have referees that can attest how you are ready for masters and progressed as a student and/or have a strong design portfolio to offset the grades. (or if in the US, do good in your GRE's).

      There's always a way when you are determined and passionate and really want this. Don't give up.

  2. Hello Underdog arch student,

    i will take a bit of time as my story cannot be shortened.

    i moved to australia by myself when i was 19 and started civil engineering in my 20. And after studying civil engineering (actually i had been failing not studying) i realized my passion for design and no interest in engineering. So last semester i picked a architecture subject related to modernism and architecture history. There you go, it got me in. And i have been reading anything and everything about architecture that is available to me. But, unfortunately my application to Bachelor program has been rejected (dont know why, may be my poor grades) so i have to study a diploma and then my bachelor. Still i believe that the hassle and trouble worth it. I hope you understand my situation (wasted my 2 years). I am waiting for any suggestion or guides that you think can help me.

    PS: On top of all this now i am financing my own fees which is a lot of money for a part timer.

    1. Hi Syed,

      Most of the stuff you mentioned, I can't provide the right advice not knowing how it goes in Australia or for personal matters - life is about finding things out trial and error and improving from the previous experiences we acquired. One of my friends made the jump from engineering to leadership - and he actually embraced his experience of engineering school because it informed him and gave him backbone to what he does today. However one of the things you have to consider is your design portfolio for architecture school admissions - that's crucial along with grades. I'm a believer that grades does not (necessarily) a good designer make.

      A great guide I find is Doug Patt's HowtoArchitect Video Series It's coming from an architect and he brings out things to consider for a career like this. It's a lot of hard work and hours put into becoming and being an architect.

  3. Hey
    I connect with this post completely. There have been many many disappointments when it has come to grades, but blaming circumstances helps in no way. You just have to do as much work as is required to beat all odds! Especially in this course. :|

  4. i Keep failing every year since I started studying Architecture, it gets me down sometimes and I cry to myself daily, seeing my friends pass out with good grades and I am still stuck in the past assignments gets to me ever more...I hope things change this year

  5. It gave me great confidence to read this post.... I am having to repeat a studio and its taken a huge hit on my confidence. I am somewhat overambitious and this is what led to my failure as well. But I have loads of big plans for my future and only hope that my transcripts dont affect this in any way, especially since Im trying my best to pull up my grades and also gain sufficient working experience. I hope you have a fruitful future. Failing is never easy especially, if you know a lot of people outside of school and have to keep it from them.

  6. Hi. I just had my final jury. The fact is that I always start ambitiously and end up not even meeting the requirements. It has always been me against time. I also procrastinate and I've always ended up working till the last minute to get through each year. I have always failed to make a good impression where I want to. I have been asked if I'm really interested in architecture at all quite a few times. The thing is that I am, but the failure to show that makes me question myself.

    We have five years of architecture. In my final, I was told my work isn't up to fourth year standards and quite honestly I know it wasn't. If I were my teachers I would definitely fail myself for the work I presented. Truth be told, as much as I'm ready to take the blame and as much as I know it is no one's fault but my own, I can't find myself to be okay with the fact that I wont be able to get my degree in five years straight. I can accept the failing part because I know I deserve it. I can do much better. I disappointed myself. You are right about a difference between failing and a failure and I'm ready to try again. But the fact that I know I failed because of my own doing, doesn't that somewhere make me a failure?

  7. I am struggling with architecture and feeling very depressed. In A level architecture I got an A* and therefore believed in myself that I could follow my dreams and study architecture, but I'm failing everything and now thinking should I just drop out before things get worse?? I hate myself for doing so badly but I try so hard to pass but never do always receiving 2.2s.

  8. Hi Anonymous, I do not know your personal circumstance or situation and I am not a professional counsellor or psychologist to provide adequate or appropriate advice. All I can say right now is that you might want to consider seeking help from your schools counselling services - it's private, and it helps on the personal stress you might be going through.

    When I fell behind, I sought professional help from a psychologist in my school to deal with my personal challenges and to learn how to handle stress better and be comfortable for not being the best designer out there . There is no shame in seeking counselling and I have learned so much more from getting help that no studio course or textbook or prof can provide. Many students have come before you and have stressful situations.

    My recent post on Failing vs. Dropping is a tricky one, because it depends on the personal circumstance of the student. I suggest try your best and do not drop, sometimes failing can show us how to improve or which direction to go career wise. At the same time, seek out what counselling services your school provides (it's confidential, private and at your own pace)

    Good luck Anonymous!

  9. I am a year one architecture student, I might fail my studio, I am really worried now. I just finished my fina. Presentation and the invigilator didn't seem impressed and gave me a poor for creativity. If I fail studio, I don't think I have the courage to go through it again. Its shameful for some reason.

  10. I just found out that i failed my studio.. Im in third year and it is my final year..i just dont know how to spend another 1 more year of repeating knowing that all my friends that passed the studio will graduate earlier without me..