My life is plagued by the pain of loss and failure, but in turn blessed by the gift of successes. I’ve always wondered how the power of the outcome of both my successes and failures compare, and whether or not one affects me more than the other.

I’ve obviously overcome my failures for the most part, because if I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be sane or alive today. But it isn’t fair to say that my failures just disappear in the face of my successes, because often times I don’t feel as much pleasure from my successes as pain I feel from my failures. It’s hard to say whether the two are equal or not, because I tend to focus more on my failures than my successes, and they bog me down more than the successes help me up. Obviously, successes have an impact on life and the sense of achievement someone feels at different times in their life, but the question is how significant is that impact? Is it possible that the power of these successes is taking over the pain from the failures and helping us all to live just one more day?

I want to know how it’s possible that these successes, when in the moment they don’t feel as powerful as the failures, can be powerful enough to overcome or equal them. When I fail, I feel utterly lost and exhausted, as if I can never get back up onto my feet, but thus far I’ve never failed to do so. How is it possible that the impact of my successes is powerful enough to allow me to do that? Or is it something else that drives me and allows me to live another day? Is it not just my successes that allow me to overcome my failures? Is there another factor to it all that I’m completely missing or misunderstanding? If so, what is it, and why is that factor is powerful?

After some research, I found minimal details about the power of successes, and the lack of power that failures have later on in life. However, this most often depends on the person, “…the experience of success and failure does not depend upon the achievement as such, but rather upon the relation between the achievement and the person’s expectation” ( Additionally, positive experiences are more likely to positively affect one’s life based on the resulting actions. The same source states, “…a person who has succeeded in a special activity will have a tendency to repeat that activity.”

However, often times when attitude is greatly affected, “…failure automatically distorts your perceptions of your goals and makes them seem more unattainable…they will paralyze you, demotivate you, and limit your likelihood of success going forward” ( The person itself is a great factor in deciding how life changes as a result of outcomes based on their decisions and actions. This, I think, is a very important lesson for every human, young and old, to learn.



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September 26, 2017 4:39 am

Dear Annie,

Your question is a very intriguing one. But it is also subjective and can have a variety of answers. So you ask, ” how it’s possible that these successes…can be powerful enough to overcome or equal them (failures)? It’s good when you fail and you feel utterly terrible about it. That means you cared about it. The next step is not something that can be taught: moving on. For me, in my life, if I don’t like something about myself, I change it. If I can’t change it, I leave it. It’s that simple because I made it that simple, it’s not worth staying up all night tormenting myself, otherwise it will never leave me. This skill is difficult to master, but once you do, it will be a valuable life skill that you will always need. You’re right, failures do feel worse than good successes. But again, it just comes with experience. You learn to focus on the successes more than the failures. It’s not something that people want to hear, but it is the truth. I hope with time you are able to learn this skill.

September 26, 2017 2:01 am

To Annie, I enjoyed reading your article. I particularly found your comment about how failures can have a greater impact on character in the moment than success. I believe that the impact of success and failure come from expectations. When we do something, we expect it to be successful. We envision that it will be flawless, because that’s what we seek. Especially regarding our own ideas, we push for success with far more determination. This could blind us from the flaws hidden in plain sight, if only we looked a little harder. Failures are so much more critical because they reveal a weakness in our character that we must acknowledge. However, I do believe in the power of success. The effects of success compound on itself. As we succeed, we develop confidence, as well as experience. This confidence can create more opportunities for success. Although success may not have the same emotional impact in the moment as failure, it is still powerful.

Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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