Finding comfort in discomfort: how two cross-disciplinary early-career researchers are learning to embrace ‘failure’

Aurelie Brockerhoff, Maíra Magalhães Lopes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    21 Downloads (Pure)


    In this intervention, we, two cross-disciplinary early career researchers (ECRs), reflect on our paths into academia, focusing on how our experiences of ‘failures’ are intertwined with feelings of shame, fear or disappointment. We turn our attention towards the “cluster of affective modes that have been associated with failure” (Halberstam, 2011: 23). We join those whose voices seek to move beyond the individualising negative affects often associated with failures towards recognising their productive and insurgent potential. We share how failures have been constant companion to our academic journeys so far and reflect on our own embodied experiences of discomfort and comfort associated with our failures as we navigate through multiple normativies in academia. We then outline why, as we continue along our academic paths, we may choose to seek out, embrace and celebrate failures. Finally, we realise, like Halberstam (2011), we not only want to fail more, but better by failing together with others.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100671
    JournalEmotion, Space and Society
    Early online date27 Feb 2020
    Publication statusPublished - May 2020

    Bibliographical note

    NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Emotion, Space and Society, Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Emotion, Space and Society, 35, (2020)
    DOI: 10.1016/j.emospa.2020.100671

    © 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


    • Comfort
    • Discomfort
    • Early-career researchers
    • Failure
    • Messiness

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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