danny chang


It was my second year of university, and I was living off-campus for the first time, trying to figure out how to just, be an adult. Not only that, but I was taking on a much more intensive course-load than first year, I was working a part-time job to pay my bills, and I was still really committed to my extracurriculars.

It was clear that I was struggling. I began to fall short on a lot of the commitments and promises that I made to myself and others. It then became this endless loop of taking on even more responsibilities and commitments to make up for the ones I was falling short of; emotionally and physically, I was stretching myself to my limits. And it wasn't until my mental and physical health started to take a toll that I reflected on everything going on in my life and started to make changes for the better.

I know that I'm not alone in struggles like this. Students at Western are some of the most committed, hard-working people out there -- and sometimes with that drive and ambition, comes falling flat on your face. But with moments like that, I've come to learn so much about myself and about my capabilities as an individual. And I think there's a lot of people who feel the same way.

I've learned that as bad as it can be, failure is really just proof that we've tried. And failing multiple times just means that we're being thorough about getting things right.

Today, I still feel the emotional burden that failure plays in my life. The thing about jobs like this is that you really do pour your heart and soul into it, and no part of your life isn't impacted by it. One of the responsibilities that comes with elected student life is the constant fear of failing your peers, and having the feeling that those failures define who you are. Those fears are only magnified by the fact that people don't get to see the 65+ hours a week you put into the job and sometimes, they're only really aware of the biggest successes and failures of your team's work. I've come to realize that that fear of failing is what harms you the most, not actually failing.

You're put into these positions with the steepest learning curve that you'll ever experience, and from day one, you feel the burden of looming failure on your shoulders. You're also accountable to students, which means that even on your hardest days, you still feel the obligation to respond to that angry 2am Facebook message. Even when you're getting up at 4am to catch a train for that meeting with a provincial politician, you still travel back for that 9PM meeting that students have asked you for or else you feel like you're not doing your job well enough.

But slowly, you start to realize the things that are inside your control, and the things that are not. You realize that the fear of failure is what impacts your wellbeing more than actually failing, that that has been the thing that's been holding you back the whole time. It's important to recognize the role that failure plays in our lives and developing who we are, who we become. And even though there've been some rough times, I'm forever grateful for what my failures have taught me because I am better for it.