Men's Journal - - CAMP SLIPPERS -

FEW THINGS IN LIFE ARE GUAR­AN­TEED. But there’s one thing that you can ab­so­lutely take to the bank: You will fail. You’ll blow the sale, fum­ble the date, whiff the in­ter­view, get lost, fin­ish last, and gen­er­ally look and feel like an idiot.

This is a good thing.

Be­cause while suc­cess is the met­ric by which we’re judged, fail­ure is the mech­a­nism that shapes us. It’s a by-prod­uct of liv­ing boldly, a symp­tom of re­fus­ing to play it safe, the fer­til­izer for de­vel­op­ing char­ac­ter and grit. The trick is to learn how to use fail­ure to your ad­van­tage— rather than let it steam­roll your soul.

The se­cret? You have to be­lieve, de­spite all avail­able ev­i­dence, that your lat­est screwup was not, in fact, an un­re­cov­er­able set­back but a hic­cup that, in a weird cos­mic way, bet­tered you in the long run. It’s a self-ful­fill­ing prophecy: Trust that a fail­ure makes you kin­der, smarter, stronger—and it will. Psy­chol­o­gists ba­si­cally all agree on this.

The catch is that though flub­bing is noth­ing new, these days it’s a de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence than ever be­fore. The rea­son: so­cial me­dia. Your lat­est breakup, lay­off, or em­bar­rass­ment is now po­ten­tially, and likely, on full dis­play to your friends, fam­ily, and col­leagues. So­cial me­dia can also make you feel like a fail­ure, with ev­ery­one on In­sta­gram #crushin­git 24/7. No sur­prise, ac­cord­ing to a 2017 study, 60 per­cent of so­cial-me­dia users re­port that it neg­a­tively af­fects their self-es­teem.

But, frankly, for­get wal­low­ing in de­feat or neg­a­tiv­ity, be­cause, as Tru­man Capote said, “Fail­ure is the condi­ment that gives suc­cess its fla­vor.” And take heart in the fact that al­most any­thing worth­while is pre­ceded by some gnarly shit-eat­ing and floun­der­ing, and that what­ever doesn’t rav­age your con­fi­dence and self-worth will make you not only stronger but also bolder, hap­pier—and, with a lit­tle luck, wiser. —J.R. Sul­li­van

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