• chance, learning, checkpoint
  • depression, sadness, crushing
  • Determination, Trials, Design
  • disappointment, frustration
  • disappointment, opportunity, unprepared
  • Disappointment, work, sacrifice
  • Exam, GPA
  • Grades, Disappointment, Stress
  • inevitable, unacceptable, opportunity
  • learning
  • MIT, finals, jail
  • MIT, insecurity
  • resilience, strength, persistence, learning
  • retry, guilt
  • sad, crying, loss of hope
  • sad, disappointment, bad
  • sadness, hopefully not going to happen
  • tears, challenges
  • wrong approach, fear
  • ?
  • apprendre, recommencer, baisser les bras
  • difficultés, renaissance
  • déception
  • déception, agir, pedre
  • défaite, réessayer, participer
  • dépression, lutte, nouveau départ
  • dépression, obstacles, suicide
  • déçu, reprendre, effort
  • frustration, déception, apprentissage
  • frustration, études, réorientation
  • l'examen, les jeux, la tristesse
  • l'expérience, abattre
  • leçon de vie, dur, destructeur
  • manque d'assurance, se tromper
  • montagne, déception, travail
  • nécessaire, larmes, cadeau
  • peur, vaincre, doute
  • rebondir, avancer, persevérer
  • recommencer, ironie, déception
  • ressayer , faire des efforts
  • se relever, se battre, tristesse
  • surmonter, difficulté, se battre
  • travail,
  • tristesse rebondir


Hello to you friends,
So, I noticed that failure is basically seen with a negative perspective, yet there’s more of sense of hope and fight on the 2nd list. It’s not much of a difference, but it’s still slightly more positive than the first. What could be the reason for this slight difference? And also, why is failure seen in such an negative perspective? Is it because of our society? How we were raised? History?

Je pense qu’en effet, l’échec est vu d’un mauvais oeil pourtant c’est le meilleur moyen d’apprendre et de mieux recommencer. Je pense qu’il s’agit d’une vision imposée par notre société, où l’échec est mal vu car il montre une faiblesse ou un manque d’acharnement.

A lot of MIT’s list is rooted in insecurity around our lives here, with words like “MIT,” “exam,” “GPA,” “wrong approach,” etc. I agree with RockAChuy but think that it’s great that when many people think of failure, they think not only about its negative connotations but also about rising above it.

Having counted the positive vs. negative words in each list- the right side list contains an equal amount of positive vs. negative (14), while the left list contains more than double negative (>28) words than positive words (14). It would be hard in my opinion to link this to the way that we were brought up because the students in MIT come from various countries and backgrounds to study here. I think this may be connected to a competitive atmosphere and fear of failure. In addition, I think it would be interesting to know how this view related to the age of the respondents. My hypothesis is that age and life experience may change the perception of failure from a negative experience to a learning experience.

La perspective plutôt négative attachée à ce mot est facile à comprendre puisque pour la plupart de gens l’échec est directement lié à une frustration, ainsi qu’à une attente brisée. Dans les deux listes, on peut repérer des indices qui illustrent cette manière de penser. Ce qui je remarque de différent est justement ce qui a écrit ab11 016, que les étudiants américains l’ont associé au MIT et à d’autres éléments liés directement à leurs vies dans l’institution, alors que les commentaires de France s’attachent plus au sens général du mot. Cette analyse plutôt dissociée d’un échec concret c’est ce qui nous a peut-être permis d’être un peu plus optimiste, c’est-à-dire, puisqu’on a pas forcément pensé à un échec personnel ou plus probable, on a pu voir l’échec comme une opportunité pour apprendre et grandir, les mots en français me semblent aller plus dans ce sens, même si les Américains en ont aussi parlé.


I’ve noticed that many of the French students look at failure in a negative way, yet the also see it as a building block for the future. By this I mean, they see it as an opportunity to learn from. Also, it doesn’t seem stagnant to them..they just get back up. I noticed that many of he American students associated failure with school, which I found very interesting.

It seems that the American students are more convinced that failure is unacceptable than the French students are. Both sides do talk about disappointment and sadness, but the French students focus more on what happens after failure than the American students do. For the American students, the first 3 words that come to mind are probably the three words we associate with our most recent failure– which tends to be school-related. The French students seemed to be better at putting a positive spin on their thoughts on failure, talking more about rising above and getting back up. Do the French students have any strategies that help them look past the failure itself and think more about what to do next?

Pour les français, l’échec est très mal vu, au sein de la famille plus particulièrement. En effet, les adultes ont d’énormes attentes sur le futur des jeunes, ce qui pèse sur leurs épaules. Si un enfant échoue dans ses études, il devient la risée de la famille, et il y a un silence gênant lors des réunions quand on lui demande “alors, tu vas faire quoi maintenant?”. Je pense que chacun devrait prendre les décisions qui lui font plaisir, plutôt que de se plier bêtement aux attentes des aînés. Faire des erreurs est constructif, il nous montre comment progresser, lentement mais sûrement.

I agree with mapivot on the idea that failing shouldn’t be thought of as the worst thing ever. I know I was raised on the idea that you should always do your best and that failing is okay. Personally, when I think of failure I find myself thinking of a saying that was told to me in middle school which is something to the effect of, you truly know what kind of person someone is not by how he/she acts when he/she succeeds, but how he/she picks him/herself up after they fail. That is why I associate failure with more of a learning experience rather than just completely negative. The only real negativity comes if you don’t learn from your failures.

Even though there are so many inspirational posters and different resources that encourage us to view failure as a stepping stone or part of the journey to success, it is still an idea that feels foreign to me. Contrary to fullmoon123, I guess I was brought up with the idea that failure is unacceptable and that it is something shameful. Oftentimes, I feel like there is an expectation to pretend that success was effortless and that I haven’t stumbled and had hundreds of failures beforehand. Do the French students (or American students) feel this way as well?

In response to fullmoon123’s comment: I don’t think failing should be the worst thing ever either, and I know several of the experiences I consider my worst failures have turned out to be good learning experiences over time. That said, that kind of perspective only comes over time when one has gauged the full extent of the consequences that have arisen from one’s failures. At the time, knowing you’ve failed is one of the worst feelings, and the idea of failure can be really scary.

In response to mochabear–I agree with your last point about feeling like you have to pretend success comes naturally. It seems like there’s sometimes a stigma on being proud of oneself, and one can’t outwardly express that you’re happy with your successes because it may come off as cocky.

In response to mochabear: I used to feel very bad about failures before I came to college, mainly because everything was relatively easy for me and my parents put quite a bit of pressure on me. As a result, I put ALOT of pressure on myself to the point where any slight failure completely tore me apart. But since coming to MIT, I have completely let go of that mentality.

Bonjour mochabear,
Pour répondre à ta question, selon moi, échouer n’est pas forcément quelque chose de négatif.
Il est vrai que bien souvent, lorsqu’on ne réussit pas un examen par exemple, on est déçu. On se sent mal, frustré, énervé… Surtout si on a beaucoup travaillé.
Mais souvent aussi un échec peut être révélateur. Par exemple, ne pas réussir un concours ou ne pas être embauché pour un travail peut vouloir dire que nous n’étions pas faits pour cette formation et/ou ce poste. Souvent avec le recul on se rend compte que c’est mieux ainsi.
Selon vous, l’erreur est-elle formatrice (dans un cours de langue ou dans la vie) ? Avez-vous des histoires à nous raconter sur des échecs qui vous ont permis de progresser / d’avancer ? Ou au contraire l’échec n’a rien changé et / ou a rendu la situation encore pire ?
À bientôt