I’m Daniela, an aspiring Master of Wine. And a proud failure.
Yep, I failed a total of three sections of the WSET Diploma. Each failure was a serious emotional blow to the same girl who would proudly parade around with a perfect report card in one hand and a novel in the other. The product of a rigorous private school education, I knew how to study, take tests, and exercise an almost terrifying amount of discipline.
So you can imagine how shocking the first round of defeat felt to the person who waltzed into the program, frowning at the instructor’s first bit of tongue-in-cheek advice: “Want to pass? Quit your job!” And my fellow students seemed to be breezing through somehow, sparking the incredibly self-destructive thoughts of “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do this?”
I remember when, after months of waiting, the e-mail finally came in, the word “fail” in all caps. I stared at it in disbelief.
How Daniela Handles Failing Wine Exams:
Step One: Sob in a fetal position. Question everything. Wonder what’s wrong with me. Commence incessant berating of oneself.
Step Two: Get drunk. Not on wine. It’s comforting to be spiteful.
Step Three: Cry more and fall asleep.
Step Four: Rather than embrace the day, sulk incessantly. Admit failure to those who were wondering how I did.
Step Five: Begrudgingly look at my wine collection. Crave Chardonnay in some form. Have a fleeting thought about Kimmeridgian marl and dismiss it with a disdainful sniff.
Step Six: Get offered a glass of wine, usually by my mother, who also kindly suggests that perhaps it’s time to get over this minor setback and move forward.
Step Seven: Take a deep breath, and start preparing for a re-take.
Step Eight: Slay the exam.
Failure is a hard thing to admit. It’s embarrassing. I probably drafted this post 30+ times, avoiding it for weeks only to come back and find that it hadn’t magically written itself. But in the spirit of transparency, here it is: I failed. A LOT. And you know what? It was hard to see the silver lining at the time. I didn’t prance around, delighted with my defeat, quoting inspirational posters and laughing appreciatively at the chance to reattempt each exam. I sulked over money lost and time wasted. However, after a few weeks (when the shame had started to melt away and the characteristic DaSuta competitiveness had taken over), I realized that I had been gifted an opportunity. Well, several, in fact.
I had the opportunity to master the material, to lift others up, to have empathy.
So keep failing, everybody. And when you do, just know that I’ll be there to hold your hand, get you drunk (on anything but wine), and give you an emphatic “That fucking sucks.”