Taekman: If at first you don’t succeed

Aren’t tryouts just the best thing in the world? Doesn’t auditioning for something fill you with sheer, unbridled joy? Do you ever wake up the morning of a trial and think: “Wow. I can’t wait to put myself out there and potentially fail.”

Yeah, me neither.

The start of every school year brings a wave of new activities with it. If you’re like most people, you get tired of doing the same stuff you did last year. You look for new opportunities, new hobbies, new people, new clubs. Demand for some of these clubs and organizations warrants the implementation of tryouts. Greek recruitment (both social and professional), performing groups (Case Kismat, Spartan Bhangra, and Case in Point for starters) and student government (if elections count as tryouts) all require you to put yourself out there before you’re admitted.

Initially, an audition seems like a minor obstacle. College is about change. What are you doing here, if you’re not branching out? You’re a qualified individual—you’ll get in, no problem.

But change comes with risk. It’s undoubtedly scary, putting yourself out there for others to critique and review. Something about knowing people are talking about you just makes you want to cringe. Despite your nerves, however, you get out there and do your best.

And I won’t lie: Sometimes it doesn’t pan out. In fact, a lot of the time it doesn’t pan out. You give it everything you’ve got, but it’s still not enough. You get a conciliatory email, a pat on the back for your efforts and a “try again later.”

It’s terrible. You’re embarrassed; now there’s a whole organization that knows your face and knows your failure. What if they see you on campus and recognize you as that kid that didn’t make it?

That’s certainly how I’ve felt a couple times on campus. One rejection from a professional fraternity had me shaken for weeks. I dwelled on an impersonal decision more than I should have, and couldn’t help but think: “What about me made them say ‘no’?”

If you overthink it too much, you can start to feel like it’s not worth trying anything new. Maybe you should just stay in your pre-existing niche, where you’re nice and comfortable.

But remember: College is about change. It’s tempting to stay with what you know you’re good at, but how will you grow then? One failure isn’t the end of the world, especially in your college years.

There are going to be risks with anything you do in life. Trying out for clubs and organizations are samplers for real world failure, because you’re not going to triumph in every endeavor. Not succeeding during an audition or a tryout is a lesson in gracefully failing—and failing is a lesson you’ll learn more than once. But it’s also an exercise in real world persistence.

You’re not going to accomplish much if you stop trying the minute you get shot down.

When organizations here at Case Western Reserve University tell you to try again later, they mean it. Maybe they just weren’t able to accept that many people at that moment, or maybe there was a candidate with just one extra thing that you didn’t have. But these groups wouldn’t tell you to come back for a second shot if they didn’t want you to. Don’t be scared to show your face there again.

It took some convincing from a friend to give that professional fraternity another shot. However, I took a deep breath, looked at what happened last time and figured out where I could improve. When I started the process over again, I was surprised not only that they recognized me, but also that they seemed happy to see me again. The whole tryout period was much less stressful because I knew what to expect, and—to my overwhelming delight—I actually made it in. Second time’s a charm.

It’s okay to feel badly about not getting into an elite organization or club. But don’t let that bad feeling linger forever. Evaluate what you can do better next time and get yourself ready to bounce back.

You know what they say: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Sarah Taekman is a second-year student studying Origins.