Extracurricular Failures

Years ago, I wrote a little column about how in academia, we tend to speak only about our successes and remain very silent about our failures, and I suggested that people compile and publish their “CV of Failures”. I was delighted to see the idea taken up by Princeton Professor Johannes Haushofer, who published his CV of failures and thereby sparked a discussion on the topic on social media.

For myself, I haven’t been brave enough to publish my own CV of Failures, but I thought I could make a start by compiling the “Extracurricular Activities” section of it. Or at least, the top five.

1. I love running, but there are two problems. First, I get lost a lot. Second, I am very, very slow. How slow, you might ask? I ran my first half marathon in 2012, in San Diego, at an event where there was both a marathon race and a half marathon race. While I ran the half marathon, my boyfriend ran the full marathon. We finished at the exact same time.

2. I have been knitting the same jumper for about eight years now. It’s light blue. It will be very pretty when it’s done. Well, a pretty colour. Not necessarily a pretty shape. And not so sure about the “when it’s done” part.

3. I spent years during my youth learning to play the flute, but have subsequently failed every single orchestra audition I have been to. (Coincidentally, I have never had a singing lesson in my life, but usually do OK in choral auditions. Go figure.)

4. I love Japan and spent half a year working there after my PhD. I passed the (very basic) lowest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test years ago. Since then, I have a yearly ritual, where I sign up for the (still quite basic) second-lowest level every single year, and every single year I don’t prepare well, and then chicken out at the last minute and don’t show up.

5. I try to keep this blog going by blogging about once a month. This year, this is even one of my New Year’s resolutions, to literally blog every month. But quite often, I wait until the last day, and even then, it’s usually not something deep and well thought through, but, well, you see …

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