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By Tasneem Sariya
It would be commonplace to begin by quoting sugary motivational quotes. To talk about how there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, a silver lining in the midst of dark clouds and so on. I mean you get the drift right?
It’s all poetic to say that failure paves the path to success. But the hard truth is that failure can be quite a handful to handle. It can bog you down into the pit of pity or pin you against the wall of despair, hopelessness and low confidence like a bulldozer. It can push you into being almost nonexistent. In short, it can suck! Just imagine if you fail at what you do if you are a woman. You could be the laughing stock if not the giggles of the societal brigade that claims to always know what a woman can or cannot do.
Yet, the stories of inspiration, of women not being deterred by failures should not and do not come as a surprise. Knocked, smashed and humbled by people and circumstances these are stories of women who have managed to take all of it with a mighty swoop of dignity. They have risen like a phoenix to conquer the world and if not so dramatic, to conquer at least their own lives.
Some of these women are celebrities, the known faces, which were probably unknown to the world at some point. But their grit, character, resilience, and talent could not hide nor throw them off their chosen paths. They shine today bright enough to inspire and guide many others who might find themselves in the same hollowness and darkness of failed attempts. Here is taking a look at some of the famous women who are successful today, but only after they met their fair share of failures.
Her story is legendary. A broke, single mother living on welfare, Rowling faced 12 rejections for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The series, however, went on to become a major hit amongst kids and adults and was also translated into a successful movie franchise. Today Rowling is one the richest and most recognised authors of her time.
Gomathi shot to fame recently after winning the Gold Medal at the Doha Asian Athletics Championship. Her life story is truly a tale of inspiration. At the age of 30 when most athletes are past their peak, Gomathi has only just begun her dream run. Coming from a farmer’s family, her father was her biggest support. She finished seventh in the 2013 Asian Championships and fourth in the 2015 Asian Championships. She was not a major force to reckon with back then and fate did not help her either. Her father and coach both passed away and she herself suffered a groin injury that took her away from her sport for almost 2 years.
In spite of failures at various levels, Gomathi continued to train, without a coach or sponsorships after her injury to do the unimaginable. This 30-year-old clocked her personal best of 2.70 seconds at the 2019 Asian Championships and is now set to work her way into the Olympics.
My aunt got married at a young age before she finished her graduation. After both her children were old enough she decided to pursue her studies. However, she was caught in a dilemma when someone was needed to manage the family business.
She stepped up to the occasion and chose to put her academic ambitions on hold for a while. With uncle managing the marketing outside of the shop, she became the first woman in her four-generation family business to sit at the shop dealing with customers and holding the fort.
In spite of initial setbacks, which included a stranger coming in and stealing all the deposit money under her watch, she continued to learn on the job and not get overwhelmed by a business setting that was new to her. She credits her husband for his unconditional help and support and today their business has grown by leaps and bounds.
Warm and friendly, Farida jiji as I call her has the loveliest of smiles. She was all set to study homoeopathy but fate had other plans. In spite of a personal loss and being a single parent, she continues to find her own identity and independence.
She started by managing a small business before she got involved with Global Art. Interestingly, a relative started the franchise and asked her to join. She was always interested in art, loved being around kids and was always looking to learn new things. The relative happened to relocate and the management of the entire business fell on her. She took up this responsibility with great fervour and today the centre is a hit amongst children. It has grown in staff and diversified into various other children learning activities.
Also, since she had not completed her graduation, she always felt something was amiss. She worked towards it to finally graduate in Psychology a few years back. Her smile, however, hasn’t changed much in all the years that I know her proving that struggles can be conquered without complaints.
My mother stands out for me as one of the most inspirational and determined women I know of. She studied Microbiology but her degree was invalid due to various educational loopholes when she moved cities after marriage. She took up a two-year teacher training course but had to leave it after completing the first year. After a long gap of almost ten years, during which she raised three children and taught in a private school, she went back to completing her second unfinished year. A break from precedence, she was the oldest in her class and the first to be given a chance of this sort based on her credentials and ability. She passed with flying colours but for a long time due to limited vacancies was unable to find a place in the teaching world.
After years of setbacks, she finally made it to one of the top schools in Kolkata and retired a year back after dedicating her teaching services to the institution for more than 20 years.
All these inspiring stories lead to this one question. How do you succeed after many failures? Practically looking at it, there are two ways of finding success after multiple failures. One is to keep faith in whatever you are doing, learning from mistakes but sticking it out for the miracle to finally arrive. The other is to acknowledge your weaknesses and have the ability to move on without holding grudges.
JK Rowling quite famously has said, ‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.’
Of course, you will fail in many ways when you set out to do something. The intensity, level or type of failure may vary, yet it is almost certain that failure is inevitable at some point. There is the element of destiny, of people passing you down or of situations wreaking havoc. But, hang in there and don’t sidestep hard work and passion.
The stories of these women set the record straight. They set out to do things, met failure and struggled at various levels, but did not give up. They continued to strive, to overcome the challenges and to treat each obstacle as a learning step. They might have wept, might have slipped, but they never stopped.