"we're the new face of failure"

from "most likely to succeed" to success

I'm Like a Lawyer With the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off (Me + You) by Fall Out Boy on Grooveshark

growing up, i was the quintessential golden child of academic excellence and citizenship.
i completed more community service every year than most of my friends had over their entire careers. i graduated from high school with a 5-page resume filled with academic honors, leadership experience, internships, blah, blah, blah.

top (l-r): captain of cheer squad, biomedical intern at naval medical research center, student member on the county board of education
bottom (l-r): penn state summer science intern, panel speaker in county town hall, pre-college carnegie mellon student

i was like some freaky all-american and almost always did the "right" thing, from heading my student body as president in high school to sitting on the exec board of the residence hall federation in college. now that i think about it, it's almost kind of sickening.
i had my entire future planned out, and i expected a lot from myself starting at a very young age.
others did, too.

when i was voted "most likely to succeed" in high school, it came as no surprise. to anyone.
i was told time and time again that i would run the world.
i planned to become a supreme court justice, and entered college knowing i would take over and do amazing things.

everything was going as planned - i enrolled into a doctoral program straight from undergrad with the expectation that i would conduct research on justice and policy. after becoming a mcnair scholar and discovering my love of research, i no longer wanted to be an attorney but a sought-after doctor that would have an amazing amount of influence on capitol hill.

and then, i dropped out.

the decision to drop out has been one of those that i have rolled over again and again in my head. and it wasn't until recently that i realized it was the major turning point in my life - when i went off course for the first time.
as someone who played by the rules, went by the book, and literally always had a way made for myself, it was extremely hard to face unclear direction, unemployment, and change.

the only "real" job i could get after leaving my program was as an english teacher in dc, and i was not happy about it.
nearly every woman in my family has been a teacher at one point, but i honestly had no respect for the profession. i had never wanted to be a teacher, and becoming one was more than ironic - it was tragic.
in short, it was the first of many times that i felt like a failure.

like i wasn't special anymore.
that everyone had been wrong about me.
that i had been wrong about myself.

last week, my cheerleaders performed for the first time for the whole school. as the founder of the first-ever cheer squad at my school, pride couldn't possibly encompass what i felt.


i had helped put something together that not only helped boost the self-esteem of my girls (and my boy!), but ingrained a sense of pride and community at my school for both teachers and students. and it made me realize that changing the world doesn't require a fancy title or position. it can be done by regular people doing regular things that create a series of change little by little.

i may not be what i thought i was going to be, but i am more than i could've ever imagined.
and if this is how failure looks...
... stay tuned for #epicfail.



  1. Britt...I seriously have TEARS in my eyes right now after reading this! I know I've only "known" you for a short amount of time but I am SO PROUD of you & what you've accomplished with your cheerleaders!

    1. Thank you so much, Sara! That is so sweet :)
      I am really proud to have finally gotten to this place in life, and realizing how much change can be a great thing!

  2. Glad you had your ah-ha moment lady! Something tells me you're right where you need to be, not that you wouldn't have looked dashing in a black robe, but there you would play largely by predetermined rules and laws. Your classroom, and your squad, are your own to make of it what you want, to affect the change you need and want to! :)

    1. Why, thank ya! I feel the same way. I definitely believe I was placed here for a reason, and I am not going to waste an opportunity to make an impact!

  3. You BETTA get it Britt!!!

    I love your "aha" moment! Ain't it funny how strangely that set backs turn into set ups for success?

    KLP @ SavingOurStrands

    1. Thanks, girl!
      And yes, it's hilarious. As I've always known - God is the best comedian!

  4. you are going to go far because you believe in pursuing happiness, not just what people think you should be doing - best of luck!!

    1. Thank you so much. That was really sweet! :)

  5. OMGosh I've only done a couple of personal posts like this and was overwhelmed by the kind comments and support I received from L4L readers so I literally got off my tablet and logged onto my laptop so I could say all I needed to say. I've been there. Still there. Same vote. Not dropped out but lost my early medical school acceptance and scholarship. YEARS later and I'm still working/fighting to realize my dream. I seriously battled depression for a while because of my feelings of failure. What brought me out was understanding that I am so much more than my career, achievements, degrees, job, etc. At the end of the day none of it gets anyone into heaven and our self worth is not measured by that. I'm so happy that you found your sense of pride and are working on YOU. When we are 40, living our amazing lives we will look back and wonder how on earth we were ever dissatisfied with our lives! May God continue to bless you and have direction over your life!

    1. Thanks so much, Ebony!
      This such a sweet comment, and so nice of you to log on to comment just for me! How special must I be??? Hahaha.
      Anyway, I am totally starting to reach my personal equilibrium. There are a few things I need to make my life more balanced, but this has been the closest I have ever gotten to true happiness. It's amazing!

  6. Melyssa @ The Nectar CollectiveOctober 2, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    WOW! I absolutely loved reading this post. I can totally relate to your "most likely to succeed" bit, mostly because I was very much what you described, too. Always the leader, always at the top of my class, always seen in people's eyes as someone who would make a difference. And then after graduating college, I too became a teacher, and though I never really looked down on the profession before, BEING a teacher and knowing there is a stigma always kind of made me feel like I haven't done as much as I should do. Now, like you, I'm realizing that happiness and success are totally MINE for defining and even though I'm taking a more unconventional route instead of something that sounds nice on a business card, I feel happy and successful everyday. Thank you so much for this wonderful post!

    1. Thank you for commenting! You, along with other bloggers, helped inspire me to see the beauty that's hidden in everyday life so I definitely admire you and am following your example :)

  7. thats so awesome!

    1. Thank you!!! :)


thanks for reading and commenting! you're awesome :)