This is the fourth finalist in our “celebrating failure” competition. At the end of the post, the instructor from the student’s section explains what they liked this entry. A vote on the winner among the four finalists will start July 10.

Student’s Name: Taryn Watts

My particular failure story is not the result of failing a class, as I have been very fortunate to never experience that type of devastation. My experience with failure has been failing to believe in the greatness of myself and my ability to achieve my goals.

After bouncing around to three different colleges, with the ultimate goal of finding something that made me happy, I neglected to believe that one day I would love the work that I decide to do. I decided after finishing most of my general education classes that I would take a few photography elective classes that were offered at my local community college. This experience opened a new world of opportunities for me and gave me hope that I could actually love what I do for a living.

After transferring to yet another college to obtain a degree in photography I began to doubt my ability as a photographer amongst other students who I felt were far more experienced than myself. I diligently finished my two year degree in Photographic Technology and discussed with my family my options for obtaining a bachelor’s degree in something other than Photography. I blindly used the excuse of “not wanting to ‘pigeon-hole’ myself into one specific field that seemed (at the time) to be a dying art,” though in reality it was the result of me being afraid of failing in this field.

My parents bought the idea, and after much persuasion were pleased with the idea of me obtaining a business degree. With no solid plan in mind I began my journey here at UCF and took as many business electives that I thought applied to myself and the industry I have been working in for the past seven years-retail. Throughout the classes that I enrolled in, I started to doubt my ability as a business person. Sales proved not to be the thing for me and I became increasingly discouraged with myself and how much time I may have wasted in my attempt to figure out where my place in the world really is.

On a whim, I confronted my mother with the idea of taking my photography (I have been doing small side jobs for years) more seriously and using the business skills I have learned while at UCF to start my own photography business and serve my local friends and potential clients. My biggest fear was that she would not accept that I did not feel as though a corporate office job was for me and whether she would feel that my time at UCF was a waste. To my surprise she was happy that I finally decided that I wanted to work in the field I once loved so much when I first started college, and accepted my idea.

From this long and oftentimes grueling experience I learned that failing to believe in yourself is the biggest failing experience a person can go through. Failing to realize that you are just as good, if not better, than those in the same field as you is what deters many people from achieving their goals. I also learned that finding something you love and turning that into a career is my own personal definition of happiness.

Instructor Comments: I think this response is the best from this section because her story is compelling (following her dreams to pursue photography as a career and confronting her parents) as well as heartfelt (she had to have courage to face herself and her parents and ultimately learned to believe in her ability). It is also believable.

Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at This post appeared on July 3, 2013. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley