The College Money Guys - May 2018

May 2018

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A LESSON IN FAILURE WHAT I LEARNED FROM J.K. ROWLING

Hello, readers, Andrea here. May is my birthday month, so Brannon gave me the lead article of this edition as a gift! Turning another year older has me reflecting on the milestones I’ve hit in my life and the advice that has helped me along the way. Many of our seniors are approaching an exciting new chapter in their lives this month, so I’d like to share a bit of wisdom I wish I’d been told when I was their age. As the director of financial aid here at The College Money Guys, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of these students over the years. My job is to ensure they and their families are financially prepared for higher education. But today, I’d like to share some advice that’s a little more personal: Don’t fear failure. I didn’t receive this advice until after I earned my bachelor’s degree. I was at a crossroads. My whole life, all I knew was the structure of being a student. As long as I woke up, went to class, and did my homework, I’d succeed. But adulthood doesn’t come with a syllabus. When I graduated, I could see the endless possibilities of my future stretched out before me, and I was terrified . I was paralyzed with indecision. After spending so many years at school to come to this point, I was suddenly faced with the fear that I had to make it all “mean something” right after graduation. If I didn’t get my dream job right out of the gate, then what was it all for? Feeling lost, I did a Google search to see if I was the only one facing this problem. That’s when I found J.K. Rowling’s commencement speech.

failure is an inevitable part of life we have to deal with. Instead, she argued that it is as valuable, if not more valuable, than success.

We are so driven by success in our modern world that we spend very little time discussing failure and never view it as a virtue in itself. That’s why Rowling’s speech is so empowering. Here’s this powerful, successful woman telling the world, in no uncertain terms, that her failures were essential to getting her where she is. In her own words, “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” Shortly after hearing this speech, I shook off my paralysis and took a leap of faith. I accepted a job working for an oil company in Mexico — a far more adventurous step than my younger self would ever imagine. Before, I was too afraid to try something new for fear of failing. But with Rowling’s help, I came to realize that even if it was a disaster, I would learn and grow from the experience. I’m so glad I took that opportunity. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. To all the seniors about to graduate, don’t worry. You got this. I know it feels like the world is weighing down on your shoulders right now, and it’s only natural that you feel nervous or afraid. But don’t let those fears keep you from trying new things or pursuing your dreams. As my grandma used to say, “Don’t take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive.”

“That’s why Rowling’s speech is so empowering. Here’s this powerful, successful woman telling the world, in no uncertain terms, that her failures were essential in getting her where she is.”

Congratulations, and have an amazing summer!

Delivered at Harvard University in 2008, the enormously successful author of “Harry Potter” turned heads by praising the virtues of failure. Rowling’s powerful speech was not meant to assure graduates that

–Andrea Robayo

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