The Princeton Perspective Project affirms that failures, setbacks, and struggles are normal parts of the college experience and of a successful life. In fact, we believe that undertaking life’s most meaningful challenges often entails a significant risk of failure. We encourage all students to recognize the potential that exists in failure because there is so much to be learned from navigating through these challenging and often disorienting experiences.
While many hold the unexamined belief that mere ability will yield exceptional results, we intend to recognize that effort, preparation, skill, techniques and strategies, motivation, mentors and support networks, as well as our own abilities, are also crucial catalysts for success. Replacing mistaken beliefs about effortless perfection with a more realistic perspective allows us to recognize that there are many processes and pathways that lead to achieving our goals. Reflecting on how we learn, strategically using the resources available to us, and creating a network of support are all integral to a successful and fulfilling life.
In this spirit, the Princeton Perspective Project provides a space where students can share stories of failures, rejections, and struggles through videos, writing, and creative expression. Rather than viewing these experiences as signs that we don’t belong, this project empowers students to learn from each other’s experiences, offering a fresh perspective on the type of resilience necessary to realize your full potential on campus and beyond.
Why this matters to the Princeton community:
Our approach challenges the all-too-prevalent culture of “effortless perfection,” which creates the illusion that other’s paths to success and fulfillment are easy, uncomplicated, and free of failure. Holding ourselves to this image of perfection can be limiting and intimidating. If we constantly live in the belief that rejection and failure should not exist in our lives, we do not have room to grow and try new things for fear of revealing our imperfections. That is why embracing our inadequacies, fears, and failures is so important for fostering a stronger, more authentic, and more resilient community.
What we are doing:
While this mindset is not unique to Princeton, our solutions are meant to respond to our distinct sense of campus community. That is why we intend to:
- Normalize struggle by creating a safe space in which students can feel comfortable engaging with their failures—whether perceived or actual
- Invite all students to join the conversation and learn from testimonials of other students, faculty, and alumni
- Cultivate a culture of openness and honesty about setbacks
- Connect students with resources so that everyone knows how to reach out for help when experiencing struggles
We, the members of the PPP advisory committee, want students to know that no one has experienced Princeton without setbacks, yet each one of us has what it takes to thrive.