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Photo of Joy Kendle
Joy Kendle ’14 created an app to connect people who need babysitters with reliable college students. (Photo by Mark Graham).

Failure – Frogs Find Meaning in Life’s Wrong Turns

January 7, 2019

Everyone fails, but few people are comfortable discussing it.

(This article by Caroline Collier was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of TCU Magazine.)

When I met with Joy Kendle ’14 at the Mary Couts Burnett Library, she said she wished she had known on graduation day that career paths weren’t always easy. When her ambitions stalled, Kendle learned that the road to success in corporate America was not guaranteed, even with a college degree.

I agree with Kendle. After misguided career attempts as a rock drummer and then as a literary fiction author, I know those life lessons are learned the hard way. Though I always managed to provide for myself and avert financial disaster, I was well into my 30s before I had a job with benefits.

I don’t know anyone who has sailed smooth seas in their career. Between the covers of each tale of success are untold stories of disappointment.

While Kendle is in her mid-20s, she has some perspective: “Just [become] comfortable with failing,” she told me. “It’s going to be OK. And people are going to love you, and it’s going to be all right because everybody fails.”

After experiencing failure, many people pick themselves up, wipe off the dust of calamity and carry on with a new nugget of wisdom. For example, Kendle is in the process of reinventing herself as an entrepreneur and app developer.

Admitting failure is no easy thing. Turns out, the TCU community is not comfortable with the concept either. While reporting this story — tracking down leads and whispers of failure — I hit brick walls trying to get people to share their experiences.

Kudos to the seven people who were willing to discuss their misadventures in life. I admire their courage and noted the wisdom they picked up in the midst of broken plans.

I hope, in these stories of a missed chances, addiction and career missteps, readers will savor the fruits of these experiences, and the redemptive rewards for the failures required to reach them.

Read more in TCU Magazine.