I feel like Kobe Bryant
I feel like Kobe Bryant (insert Kanye West shirt here). As many of you know, my favorite player in the entire world retired recently, but not before putting on one of the most electrifying performances in recent basketball history. It was only fitting that Kobe went out like that. No other way could the Black Mamba leave Hollywood without a mythical ending.
In a way I feel exactly like Kobe as I get ready for life after college. Throughout the entire season, Kobe transformed from the killer instinct, Black Mamba, into the gentle senior who would depart wisdom to anyone willing to lend an ear. I now find myself being that gentle senior that leaves bits and sayings to anyone near me. After talking to peer I found myself wondering what were the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in college. College, especially here at UIC, is great place to learn your strengths and weaknesses through course work and study habits, but I’ve learned that my greatest lessons came outside the classroom.
During Kobe’s retirement speech, he mentioned that he was so happy that he played through the down years of losing in the playoffs, fighting through injuries, and ultimately, failing to reach his goals at times. Like Kobe, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned in college is that it is definitely OK to fail. I’ve grown to learn that failure is simply a possible result of trying something new.
Coming into college, I desperately wanted to be an architect. I did research on the path to becoming an architect, did college tours on which college was the best, I even spoke to professional architects around the country about the industry. I was ready. One thing stopped me from being an architect: I sucked, horribly, you couldn’t be any worse than I was at architecture. I stayed up countless nights trying to perfect my craft, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t want to quit or change majors because I thought that quitting meant that I failed, and failing was a disappointment that I should be ashamed of. I lost that mindset after talking to friends and mentors that told me that I had to do what was best for me. I quickly changed majors, probably a week after midterms in my first semester of college, I kept kicking myself though about being what I thought was “stupid.”
Although I changed my major, I kept pushing towards finding myself in a career/major that kept my interest (cue the marketing major). After changing my major, I found what some people would say was my “true calling,” advertising. I found that path to be something that challenged me, but something that I also loved. I still fail sometimes at life as an advertiser, but I do it knowing that it is good, or even great. I told one of my friends about how failure is a great thing to have in your back pocket, and she instantly laughed. I was being serious though. Failure is the greatest teacher in the world. Failure teaches you everything that you couldn’t expect to learn if you had succeeded on your first try.
As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that failure is OK under three circumstances:
- You’ve failed knowing that you’ve given it your all.
- You know that failure is not the end of the story.
- You’ve learned how to pick yourself back up after falling down.
If you fail under these circumstances, I think failure is good for you.
(Side story) I often find myself talking about my failure as an architecture major because I think it really defines who I am today and I’m so proud of it. Whenever I talk about architecture, I think about a conversation I had with my best friend, who was also an architecture major with me, arguably the best one in the class of 2016 (but I’m a little biased). She encouraged and helped me so much while I was in class struggling, and when I talked to her a couple of months after dropping the major she said to me, “Christian, I’m glad you changed your major… because you were not good at it at all.” It was at THAT moment that I knew that I made the right decision to change my major.
My main point for you is to try something new; embrace failure just as much as you do success; and try again with the new lessons you’ve learned. Life is just one big science experiment where you keep mixing chemicals until you find the right potion to happiness.
Christian Gray is a senior majoring in marketing with a focus in promotion and communications and a minor in economics. He is president of the Student Activities Board. When he’s not planning events or doing schoolwork, you’ll catch him watching something sports related (#KOBE) or vibing out to music. His career goal growing up was to be Batman. He won’t tell you if he was successful on that mission, but let’s be real – have you ever seen him and Batman in the same place before?