How I failed the Bar exam and then succeeded, and you can too!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” (c)

No one likes talking about that one time they did not succeed. Success is intoxicating, especially when you are surrounded by bright, accomplished individuals ALL THE TIME.

No one likes talking about that one time they failed. No matter how hard we try to glorify the failure, it’s not a secret that the first thing we feel is embarrassment, not only because we did not live up to our perfectionist expectations, but also because we dread that disappointed look on the faces of our loved ones. But here is the truth that we all forget about in the moment of our weakness – we are more than test results and grades and jobs. We are loved because we are imperfect, loyal, compassionate, committed, real.

At first, I was not sure whether to write about my journey as there was still an underlying fear of how the fact that I did not pass the bar on my first attempt would affect my professional image. You see, in the era of perfect Instagram feed and polished LinkedIn profiles we hesitate to be real.

Ultimately, I knew that I owed it to myself and to those who were struggling to be honest.

I never failed any test or exam in my entire life since the age of 6. I have been through law school twice, once in my native country and then in my adopted country. I completed two master’s programs and yet never had a “fail” mark. Imagine my shock and horror when I checked the exam results and found out that I failed. I was embarrassed, and spent days and days attending to my bruised ego’s needs.

The experience shook me up and took me out of my comfort zone. Not that my comfort zone was very comfortable to begin with, as I was articling and studying at the same time.

Nevertheless, after some time I started reaching out to people, and found out that some of the brightest individuals I knew also failed the exam yet here they were able to overcome the failure and succeed. I will be forever grateful to everyone who had courage to open up to me about their not so perfect journey. I am also thankful to those who were ashamed to share their struggles or stories of failure, after all I have been there too.

I knew I would have to write it again, not only because stubborn was my second name, but also because I knew there was a bigger lesson behind my failure. I needed to learn patience, compassion towards myself as I tend to be my harshest judge and an ability to see the bigger picture.

Everyone’s journey is unique, but along the way we forget about it. No one really talks about regrets, tears they shed or insecurities they face. It takes courage to not give up. It takes courage to speak about the failure out loud for it shapes us equally as success does if not more. It takes courage to fail and not despair. We are so used to be judged by job titles we hold and grades we get, that we base our value on a vain metric of success. There is no shame in failing if at the end you’ve learnt how to pick yourself up. Fail so you can learn to not give up!

I will be called to the Ontario bar in September, and if there is one thing I would pass down to my future children is that life is for the courageous, and you will see this to be true as you live equally daring through ups and downs by staying proud of who you are and what your journey is.

Advice, Bar Exam