Failing In Order To Find Yourself

Written by Tyler Wehr

In the process of figuring out who you are, it’s also incredibly important to figure out who you’re not. However, the only way to figure out who you’re not is to try things, and more importantly to fail at them. So often, the fear of failing obstructs people from reaching their intended destinations. Failure is good, at least when done correctly.  

I took an entrepreneurship class last semester and we talked about failure quite often. That’s because as an entrepreneur in the process of creating your own business you are going to fail––a lot. But the idea is that you want to fail fast, and you want to fail forward. By that I mean you don’t want to be stuck for years hindered by your failure, and you need to use the failure as a means toward achieving future success. But the only way to fail is to try. Michael Jordan sums it up best, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”  

Failing isn’t always easy. But it is invaluable to help find out who you are, which is the foundation for beginning to write your own story. For the longest time I loved the sport of basketball. I was the best player on my teams in both third and fourth grade, and I joined the travel basketball team in fifth grade. Once on the team though, I realized I wasn’t the best player anymore because this team consisted of all of the guys who were the best players on their teams. It took me a while to come to grips with that realization, but eventually I began to understand. Maybe I wasn’t going to make the NBA after all. 

It wasn’t until the eighth grade that I found out I wasn’t all that talented at my favorite sport. My coach was known for yelling. During one game in particular we were losing quite badly, and there were only two kids on our team who were still trying to win––I was one of them. The other boys had mentally checked out and couldn’t wait until the game was over. We weren’t going to win but I was still giving my full effort––probably because I usually didn’t get to play as much and knew if I didn’t play hard I would be taken out.

After the game, coach pulled us into our huddle and said something I will never forget, “Guys, you know it’s bad when the two worst players on the team are the only ones still giving their all out there.” And as he said it he pointed at me and my other hard-working teammate. 

I quit basketball a month later. I had figured out I wasn’t a basketball player. I didn’t quit because my coach called me out in front of the team. I quit because I knew what he said was true. I was one of the worst players on the team, and I didn’t really love basketball anymore. It just took him saying it publicly for me to finally accept the truth.

Later that year I decided to pick up volleyball, and went on to have one of the most successful high school careers in the history of my school. But, I only started playing volleyball was because I wasn’t good at basketball. I failed––but I failed forward.

Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are and who you’re not––figure it out on your own by not being afraid to fail. Failure is good. It tells you who you’re not.


 Tyler Wehr is an intern at YouSchool and a junior at Point Loma Nazarene University with a passion for writing and mentoring. He enjoys deep conversations, learning about what makes people tick and reading good novels. You can also find him on the volleyball court either playing or coaching. Follow Tyler on twitter: @tyler_wehr