Have you ever messed up on a test that you worked really hard towards? Or perhaps, lost a race on sports day in high school that you thought you would win? Although we find it so hard to admit it, failure happens to all of us, and in our culture we can’t help but allow it to make us feel crushed, feel ashamed, even if no one knows about it but ourselves. With “failure”, or, not meeting a goal or particular standard in something, being so frequently associated with inadequacy, stupidity and inferiority, is it so surprising that we choose to keep it bottled up inside of us and suffer in silence? Hardly.
Society, Schools, have got it all wrong.
We need competition. We need to be pushed, to be encouraged to be our best selves and live our “best lives”. But if this competitive environment gets entangled with sympathetic nods at parents evenings, friendships turning toxic with crushing comparison, and us reducing our self-worth to the score we get on a test, it’s damaging. It isn’t pushing us to do better, it’s pushing us to our limits, and then pushing us over the edge.
We need to change the way we look at failure.
OED defines failure as a ‘lack of success’. A lack. Not an absence. Here is where we introduce the idea of growth and of moving onwards, of moving upwards.
Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”. Thanks Google. He has a point. If you never bother to try hard at anything then you will neither fail or succeed (which, in my opinion, is far worse). The thing with making mistakes is that, yes, it can be upsetting and, yes, it can even be gut-wrenching. But you learnt something from it, didn’t you? And learning is all apart of making progress. Apart of success.
So whatever setback it is that you’re dealing with right now, brush yourself off, get up off the ground and stride forward as confidently as you did before.
To end with Miss Susan Gale, “As long as you feel pain, you’re still alive. As long as you make mistakes, you’re still human. And as long as you keep trying, there’s still hope.”
You’ve got this.