Fail your Way to Success


School is a very important aspect of my life as it is for so many teenagers. I spend a lot of time studying and doing homework. I also pride myself with a top 2% ranking in my large sophomore class.

So you can imagine the shock when I received my grade for a recent test and saw that I got a 62. In case you missed that:

I failed a test!!

I’d been expecting an A. I’d taken the test and it had seemed relatively easy. I’d studied the material and thought I knew what I was doing. Obviously I didn’t.

This had a huge and terrible effect on me. Very little is more important than my grades. It was probably the worst thing besides actual death that I thought could happen. (Dramatic much? Perhaps… But it sure felt like it!)

I’ve struggled for a while with test taking skills. I even went to tutoring for months to try and fix it. Tests are such an important way adults judge teenagers, that I feel I have no room for sub-par results. SAT’s, ACT’s, state tests and curriculum tests all fill me with dread. I had tried so many methods and didn’t seem to get anywhere.

With this in mind, I reached a mental block. I couldn’t find a way to move on; at least not right away. All I could think was that I was a failure and wouldn’t make it to a good school and that I’d never learn to test right.

But really, these thoughts are only little lies put there by Satan. He wants me to think I’m a failure because he knows that God can make me better. And if he can stop me from coming to the Lord, he can keep me from becoming better.

Perhaps I was right when I didn’t believe I was good enough to continue getting good grades. Perhaps I needed the Lord to rise above this setback.

After all, Ether 12:27 tells us that our Father gives us weaknesses so that we will come to Him and transform them into strengths. Humility can be as valuable as it is painful.

The more I’ve thought about this, the more I realize that maybe failure isn’t so bad. In fact maybe it’s even a good thing!

Our primary purpose on the earth is to return to live with our Heavenly Father, and there is only one way to do that. Unfortunately that way involves a lot of failure.

Failures and trials are usually seen as a bad thing, which isn’t surprising, considering their immediate consequence is almost always negative. But if failure is only negative, then why would God let us go through the hardship of slipping up?

Do you think a star athlete could deal with losing the championship game if he’d never lost a game in his life? It’s the setbacks we deal with now that will help us to make it through harder things later.

The other day, my dad reminded me of Nephi and the Brass Plates. What if Laban had given them to the family the first time they asked? What kind of prophet would Nephi have become if he hadn’t had the lessons learned from multiple failures? What if it had all just come easily to him?

If we come to the Lord after a failure he can “consecrate our afflictions for our gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2)

We can become better and look to a brighter future when we let the Lord help us through a failure. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Anything is possible through Him; even keeping a GPA afloat after a failed test.

He can bring us back from sin, a failed test, a lost game, a harrowing loss.

These are the things we go through now so that later we can make it through even harder things. And when it’s all over we’re so much stronger. People can often make it through harder things than they think they can.

Each failure is an opportunity to learn. Take advantage of these and let them bring you closer to the Lord. He never gives you anything that you weren’t divinely designed to tackle.

As much as I feel disappointed and frustrated with this trial in my life, I guess I can also feel empowered knowing that the Lord has a path for me. Struggling with tests has brought me to my knees many nights. I have fasted and prayed. My parents have helped me study and paid for tutoring. I have worked harder. I guess in the end, those are all good things, right?

Do you struggle with test-taking? Do you have another trial or weakness in your life that you are trying to overcome? Please share here so I don’t feel so alone. This misery would sure love some company!

Author profile

Jane Tallmadge spends her time playing tennis, reading, longboarding, and writing Ruby Girl articles instead of doing homework. She struggles with an identity disorder in which she wishes she was European but is tragically from Texas. Some of her favorite things include cheese plates, jazz music, and her family. If you offer her dark chocolate (90% cacao, please), she might make you shrimp in return.

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  • Rochelle Tallmadge
    April 18, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Jane, I love that you were so open and vulnerable in this post. Failure stinks. But you are doing a great job figuring out how to turn it around. So proud of you!

    My weakness is that I have a short little temper. Mostly around those I love, of course. My poor family. I have been working on this weakness for many years. It gets better, but I am always aware of how much improvement I need to make!

  • Lizzie Beth Robbins
    April 18, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I think this was the perfect post! I am sure everyone is in the thick of AP/IB tests and finals right now. Thank you for this! This is just what I needed to hear. I loved the part when you talked about Ether 12:27. It brought a whole new perspective to my eyes. Tad R. Callister says that one of the purposes of the Atonement is that it helps us become. It helps us transforms our thoughts, feelings, and actions into who Heavenly Father wants us to become. I never thought that academics and grades could be likened to this concept.

  • Dinah Sluss
    April 18, 2016 at 10:19 am

    A few minutes ago I got a text from my daughter Chloe (15) who just got her grade for a test she took last week and it brought her grade down in the class. She has been working very hard trying to bring her grade up to an A in the class. She was counting on getting a good grade, in fact she felt so good about the test after she took it. Chloe realizes that she is very good at test taking, however, this is a language class and she has to work harder. It’s hard to face failure, specially when you feel you have been doing everything right. I texted her back and told her how proud we were about her effort and reminded her that life is good. This too shall pass, right? But it didn’t work. I find myself at an emotional low today and trying to fill someone else’s cup when you’re so low is hard. But thank you for sharing this with me because it was just what I needed to hear and you give me works of encouragement to pass on to my daughter. You’re so mature and amazing!

  • Rachel Ankeney
    April 18, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Jane! I love this post and i completely relate. Failure is a devistating thing especially for me but everything that comes from failure is much greater than where we started. You are such a good writer, I loved reading this!

  • Jennifer Miller
    April 18, 2016 at 11:59 am

    I really enjoyed hearing this from the mind of someone so young! I think as adults we tend to forget the things that trouble our youth. We generally think your mind is just full of thoughts of boys, Snapchat and Netflix! We forget that we were once stressed by these same thoughts. We often forget how sneaky Satan really is. Turning negative outcomes into little speed bumps that make us stronger, is vital. “Having a perfect brightness of HOPE” that is what this years theme tells us do. Failure does lead to the road of success, we just need to keep driving in the right direction. I LOVE and miss your beautiful face!!!!

  • autmn
    April 26, 2016 at 1:15 am

    That is such a good perspective! No matter how many times I take a test I always feel so nervous about it because I am afraid to fail. but this makes them seem like a challenge in the way of success that needs to be overcome. and I LOVE a good challenge!