I‘ve been thinking a lot about failure lately and wanted to share my favorite teenage failure-turned-success stories. (I had a lot more time for trying new stuff and a lot less pride back then 🙂
On my 16th birthday, I tried out for cheerleading and made an utter and complete idiot of myself. It was painful (I don’t mean figuratively…I fell on my head repeatedly while attempting back handsprings). But did I let that stop me?? No sirree. I simply moved across the country and tried out again.
*Well, I wasn’t an immediate success, of course. The coach actually told me that I was pretty awful and wouldn’t be performing at competitions but she needed an extra body for basketball games and I ‘d have to do.
I worked really hard that year, made some great friendships and DID end up in stunts at competitions. I got to be pretty dang good and even began to love my teenage body because it was strong enough to help me hoist other cheerleaders above my head and catch them all by myself. (Also a precursor to those years of chiropractic care. Hey, no pain, no gain, right?!)
One of our picturesque shots of Hawaii from last summer. A beach always seems so peaceful to me…but then I think about some of the difficult beach sports Hawaii’s known for, like surfing or boarding. How many failures does a person have to endure before he becomes a success at something like THAT?
My other experience happened when I was only months into a new high school and I decided to try student council so I could meet new people. I signed up to run for (what I thought was) junior class vice president but mistakenly signed up to run for student BODY vice president (as in, over the whole school). A much bigger deal and something that a sophomore had never attempted before. By the time I realized my mistake, I was too afraid (read: embarrassed) to back out.
I jumped in with both feet and ended up running against only one other girl. I was so afraid of failing that I campaigned like a crazy person. And I won. That next year was amazing; I had a so much fun, worked with the school’s adult leadership and made lifetime friends.
In the end, the fear of failure is just that: fear. It’s not real. It’s something imaginary that we allow to invade our dreams and keep us from the things we want.
USS Missouri: fear of failure has to be something very real for members of the military. But it’s not only their pride at stake…usually many, many lives depend on their courage.
As an adult, my propensity to try new things has been lacking lately and I can’t really figure out why. As adults we like to think that we should have already defined ourselves into a little corner and we therefore can’t succeed at new things. How many times have you heard an adult say, “Oh, I’m not creative.” or “Nah, I don’t do sports.” Kids would never admit defeat like that, especially before they’d even tried!
We adults also have this terrible thing called pride. What if someone notices that I screwed up? What if someone judges me? What if, what if, what if…?? I’ve realized that I like to fill my home and life full of examples of where I have succeeded to help me remember that I’m never done defining myself. Isn’t it fun to surprise people?!
USS Arizona Memorial
I recently decided something. Any chance I get to feel fear or rejection (plus the accompanying embarrassment), I’m gonna take it. It’s all just a potential for growth, anyway. If it’s been a while since you’ve tried something new, maybe it’s time to take a stretch. What’s the worse that could happen? You could fail?? Sure, but you could also succeed.
Besides, how boring would we be without failures to laugh about??