Capstone Presentations: Nikhil and Facing Failure

March 6, 2019
Emma StiefelFellow Voices

At the conclusion of Year On’s 2018 Fall Semester Experience, each fellow gave a capstone presentation of what they’d learned during the past four months.. This is a summary of what Nikhil N., one of the fellows, shared.

Throughout his entire life, Nikhil felt stuck. He didn’t perform as well as he hoped in sports, he was disappointed with his grades, and even his social life wasn’t living up to his expectations. He wasn’t going in the direction he wanted, but he didn’t know how to get there.  “Instead of trying to dig in deep into [what was holding me back], I was scared to accept it,” Nikhil shared. “I started to sulk, and I didn’t really understand what I was doing wrong.”

Eventually, however, Nikhil realized what the problem was: he was terrified of failure. He’d always thought it was a bad thing to be avoided at all costs — who would want to fail? Now, however, Nikhil saw that by playing it safe and trying to avoid any negative outcomes, he’d actually kept himself from taking the risks necessary to succeed.


Nikhil didn’t want to get stuck in the same rut after he graduated from high school, so he decided to take a gap semester with Year On to reflect on his experiences and figure out how he could grow in the future. Throughout the four month program, he put a lot of thought into understanding who he is, what “failure” is, and how he might be able to help himself by embracing what seemed like such a scary word.

One of Nikhil’s favorite tools for reflection is writing — a form of expression that especially suits his introverted personality. During his gap semester, he discovered that putting his thoughts on paper was a great way for him to “get everything out and explore new territories within myself.” Through writing his thoughts down like this and getting help from his Year On coaches and the rest of the staff, Nikhil gained much more insight into himself and his fear of failure.

The image Nikhil discussed in his presentation.

Thanks to all the time he spent reflecting on himself, Nikhil was able to leave his gap semester understanding that “failure isn’t something we should run from, it’s something that we should embrace. We can’t learn anything without failure because it gives us the tools we need to grow.”

During his capstone presentation, he shared the above picture that describes his insights almost perfectly. Before, Nikhil was always stuck on the left side, trying to run away from failure but actually spiralling deeper into it. Now, however, he knows that he shouldn’t be afraid to take that leap of faith to success.

You can watch Nikhil's capstone presentation here:

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