Becoming Resilient through Failure – A Tale of Remembering Names

inspirational-quote-failure-300x190.jpgIt was a typical day in school. I was walking past the dinning hall after having my dinner. A young, beautiful and lovely student greeted me across the hall way. I smiled back at her. In my forgetful mind, I was searching frantically for her name. After 5 minutes, nothing popped up.

I was certain that I took notice of her name when I first met her during the scholarship’s interview in Residential College 4 because of her extremely calm and pleasant personality. I was certain that she told me her name again during the Freshmen Orientation Camp at Sentosa when she was injured. Despite multiple attempts and opportunities for me to remember her name, I wasn’t able to.

I was embarrassed especially when I could’t remember a student’s name who obviously took the efforts to remember mine.  The embarrassed moment didn’t last long. I told myself that this was not the way that I wanted to end this encounter. I took the courage to search around the dinning hall for her. I was determined to confront my failure.

I found her near the Muslim’s tray return point talking to another student. I walked up to her and asked her how was her day. I inquired about the status of her injury. She raised her hand and shown me her scar. I felt sorry for her. In the midst of all these, in my mind I was hoping to buy time for me to remember her name. It didn’t happen.

Finally, I gave up and popped the question that had been haunting me since the sweet greeting, ‘What is your name?’. She replied in her signature cheerful smile ‘My name is Tahira’. I repeated her name back to her but I got it wrong pronouncing it. She gracefully corrected me. I got it right in the third attempts. We chatted for a while before I bid her good bye and told her that it was nice to meet her again.


I repeated her name at least twice in my mind. I committed to memory as many details as possible about our encounter, her black cardigan, her black and white pattern t-shirt, her scar on her right hand and etc. I told myself that I will never ever want to forget her name again. I was determined.

As I traveled back up to my apartment, the thought of how my current experience mimics the process of learning from failure came into my mind. I can’t stop this burning desire to write about it. So I rushed back to my room, booted up my laptop, revived my blog (which sadly I had abandoned writing it for the last three years) and wrote this post.

Failure in remembering name is a failure and the four key lessons that I learned from this experience are:

  • Like any failure we face in life, we need to reflect upon it deeply why this has happened. Asking ourselves tough questions to uncover the true reasons behind such failure. This is the first step of learning from failure.
  • Like any failure we face in life, failure will occur despite our best efforts to ensure that it wouldn’t. Having the humility to admit our failure is the next step.
  • Like any failure we face in life, relentlessly continue to pick ourself up after each failure and try harder to make it work the next time is the next crucial step.
  • Like any failure we face in life, we need to remember and capture the entire reflection log of our failure so that we can constantly trace back to our learning even if it seems like common sense.

The four lessons are in a loop structure. Every time when you experience failure, the lessons should be practiced over and over again until you have achieved your goals.

As I wrote till this part of my blog, I realized that these lessons seem to be pretty much common sense, nothing sort of like any words of wisdom. Yet, to me, it holds a special meaning to my heart. These lessons were felt deeply, passionately and most importantly retrospectively at the moment when I was travelling back up my unit. As a result, it would be difficult for me to ever forget them.


You have reignited my passion to revive my abandoned blog. Thanks to you, I was reminded of the need to constantly practice my four seemingly common sense lessons on learning from failure. For all of these, I am indebted to you.

My only hope and wish is when I do meet up with you again, I will be able to call out your name without hesitation and doubt.

Jenson Goh


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