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After Failure, choose to find Success

Dear Badass Black Girl,

After a failure, it is not always easy to get up. Here are some tips to turn your setbacks into a step toward success.

Take it easy. Take a step back, and focus for a while on your hobbies or volunteer activities—whatever will nurse your confidence back to health and keep you from developing negative beliefs about yourself and your abilities.

Accept your new reality. There is no denying it: failure is hard to accept on an emotional level. Anger and denial quickly follow the initial shock. You might say, “I don’t care,” “They were idiots, anyway,” or “I quit” because you haven’t accepted your new situation. This is perfectly normal, but you have to overcome this stage and accept your new reality. Learn to tell the difference between facts, opinions, and feelings. Recognize your emotions. Accept your defeat without dramatizing it.

Assess. Examine the thing you absolutely wanted but did not get (For example, “I wanted to make the cheerleading squad” or “I wanted to make the soccer team”). What exactly went south? Put aside your emotions (for just a few moments), and try to understand how you got to where you are. “If I had to do it again, what would I do differently?” Leave your usual environment, and go somewhere where you can view the situation from a different angle. Then, you can start to figure out what exactly prevented this dream from coming true: what people and/or events influenced you, and what minor or major missteps did you make?

You have to consider the weight of your failure in the grand scheme of things and put everything in perspective. Will it matter in five years? In twenty years? From there, it’s about getting back into your groove, building a new action plan, and moving on. Once this painful task has been done—a job that many people avoid doing—you will be better prepared to imagine a “redefined self.” In other words, you can start working now on the person you want to become, instead of comparing yourself to others or trying to catch up with the person you wanted to be before.

Establish a new action plan. Take a good look at yourself and the circumstances. What does this situation teach you about yourself, about your relationship with others, about your limits and basic needs? Make a list of your resources—your qualities and skills. Exercise and/or meditation can help you see things more clearly and refocus. How can you make up for the shortcomings you discovered? For example, if you’ve learned you lose your temper when under stress, you may decide to commit to regular breathing exercises to control your level of anxiety. Plan for a new future with new projects and goals that will motivate you and restore your self-confidence.

Clean up your address book, and create distance from people who make you feel guilty or tend to bring up your shortcomings (and theirs) over and over and over again. You don’t need to absorb the stress of others in addition to your own. Only maintain relationships that bring comfort. If your family brings you stress at home, spend more time with friends, or find a quiet place of your own where you can start to move past this.

Move forward. If you catch yourself thinking you’ll repeat the failure, STOP. Tell yourself that every situation is different. The next time you have to prove yourself during an interview, an exam, or a competition, the conditions, the subjects, and the other people involved will have changed. And, you will have changed. Set realistic, reasonable goals you can place on a realistic timeline. Then, stick to the plan!

Choose new skills. A wonderful way to increase self-esteem is by developing new skills. Have you always dreamed of climbing, painting or joining a dance troupe? Sign up now or start with a YouTube lesson! Doing a new activity that you love will allow you to discover skills you haven’t tried until now.

Focus on what’s going well. The brain is programmed to spot negative events in advance to avoid dangers. But what was useful back in our cavewoman days is no longer necessary today. According to neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, it’s important to be aware every day of things that make you feel good.

Each day, make a list of three moments during the day that brought you a sense of well-being or satisfaction. This can be something very simple: the aroma of coffee or listening to a Diana Ross album. Happiness is sometimes in the small things. Writing them down daily can help increase our ability to be happy.



-- A creator of safe spaces, and an initiator of difficult conversations, M.J. Fievre, B.S. Ed, spent much time building up her Black students, helping them feel comfortable in their skin, and affirming their identities. Her close relationships with parents and students led her to look more closely at how we can balance protecting our child’s innocence with preparing them for the realities of Black life. When―and how―do you approach racism with your children? How do you protect their physical and mental health while also preparing them for a country full of systemic racism? She began to research the issue and speak to school counselors and psychologists to find (and apply!) strategies parents and teachers can use with their children to broach uncomfortable but necessary topics.

M.J. is the author of Badass Black Girl, a daily dose of affirmations for Black Girls

“You'll come away from Badass Black Girl feeling as if you've known the author your entire life, and it's a rare feat for any writer.” ―“Mike, the Poet,” author of Dear Woman and The Boyfriend Book

#1 Gift Idea in Teen & Young Adult Cultural Heritage Biographies, Publishers Weekly Select Title for Young Readers

Affirmations for strong, fearless Black girls. Wisdom from Badass Black female trailblazers who accomplished remarkable things in literature, entertainment, education, STEM, business, military and government services, politics and law, activism, sports, spirituality, and more.

Explore the many facets of your identity through hundreds of big and small questions. In this journal designed for teenage Black girls, MJ Fievre tackles topics such as family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes. By reflecting on these topics, you will confront the issues that can hold you back from living your best life and discovering your Black girl bliss.

Embrace authenticity and celebrate who you are. Finding the courage to live as you are is not easy, so here’s a journal designed to help you nurture creativity, positive self-awareness and Black girl bliss. This journal honors the strength and spirit of Black girls.

Change the way you view the world. This journal provides words of encouragement that seek to inspire and ignite discussion. You are growing up in a world that tries to tell you how to look and act. MJ Fievre encourages you to fight the flow and determine for yourself who you want to be.

Badass Black Girl helps you to:

  • Build and boost your self-esteem with powerful affirmations

  • Learn more about yourself through insightful journaling

  • Become comfortable and confident in your authentic self


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