“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

Two years ago, I swore I had it all figured out.

I had a plan, which I believed to be both solid and bulletproof. I was in my fourth and final year of university and I was ready to take on the world. After four years of studying journalism, I was looking to pursue a master’s degree in international affairs, (my area of specialization in journalism).

I had just received a conditional offer of admission to the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and I could not have been any more elated. Although the offer was conditional on the basis that I complete an introductory economics course over the summer, it made no difference to me; as far as I was concerned, I was in.

In my mind, the stars were aligned and this was the path for which I was destined.

Unfortunately, my bubble of bliss was soon shattered. Within weeks of starting the economics course, I realized I was in over my head. One plus one simply didn’t equal two and for the life of me, I couldn’t grasp even the most basic concept. I would spend hours poured over my textbooks with tears of frustration streaming down my cheeks, trying to make sense of what I was reading.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t get much better (yet). The midterm came around a few weeks later and long story short, I failed. Even though there was still a final exam to come, based on my midterm grade, I would have needed to score at least an 85 to bring up my final grade and that was not going to happen.

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” Click To Tweet

I was beyond disappointed; never in my life had I put so much effort into something, only to see such poor results. I was also embarrassed- not wanting “everyone” to know I failed, I quietly withdrew from the program and told people “it just wasn’t for me.”

The next eight months of my life were just as much of a roller coaster ride. I soon after moved in with friends away from home, determined to bounce back and find a job in my field.

Much easier said than done.

Dozens of applications went out and dozens of rejection emails came in. “Not enough experience,” “there were more qualified applicants,” “just not the right fit….” The reasons seemed endless.

It was hard not to take the rejections personally when it felt as though everyone around me had it going for them; Sally got the internship. Jack got the job. Joe Blow got the promotion.

What had happened to the alignment of the stars?

My misery went on for what seemed like months until finally, something clicked; rather than looking at my time of unemployment as a time of failure, I could turn it into a time of opportunity. With so much time on my hands, I had the chance to better myself and prepare for a career in my field.

I started volunteering with local organizations and marketing firms in the hopes of gaining valuable experience and establishing meaningful connections. I began going on informational interviews and even attended a few networking events for students. As I’m generally not one to go out of my way to meet new people, this was a pretty big deal for me.

I accidentally took up kickboxing, (a story for another day) and even began cooking. Not only did I enjoy cooking new dishes, but I was also really good at it, (shoutout to Pinterest!).

Most importantly, I got back on the horse. Reevaluating my interests and ambitions, I realized I didn’t really have a real interest in studying international affairs and quite likely would have been miserable pursuing a master’s in that field. In reality, I enjoyed writing and media and so it only seemed appropriate to apply to a public relations program, (which I’ll now be starting in September).

Failing that midterm and taking a year off were undoubtedly the best things I could have ever done.

I didn’t realize it, but the stars were in fact perfectly aligned.

But that’s just According to Adrienne.

What I once saw as a failure inevitably became a blessing in disguise. Click To Tweet


  1. Beautifully written and a piece to which I can relate. Pauses in life are reasons for self-evaluation. Personally I had to choose between my daily existence or going to law school. Regrets? Well. just say, my children, and their busy lives, filled a void that the law books could never fill. Yes, most times we lean a bit too much on our own understanding instead of where the stars are aligned. PR is a great field. Continue to follow your stars and we will continue to follow the blog.

  2. I had no idea you had written this piece; so happy to have read it. I know the journey you speak of and everything you have mentioned is called life’s lesson. I will always be your biggest supporter and I will continue to encourage you to follow your BIG dreams!!

  3. great read , love the piece and so proud of you

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