Monday, February 13, 2012

Failure Part II

Thank you all for your kind words on facebook/here about Miss A and the spectre of perfection. She gets her spelling test back today; we'll see how she did and how she handles the results. She had a great experience this weekend participating in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workshop for girls so I'm hopeful that her confidence in her abilities is strong.

On my last post MTL left a great comment/suggestion:
"Maybe you can dig up some old stuff of your own that was less than perfect and let her see it..she'll see how well you turned out in spite of it. Of course, assuming you ever did bad on anything :)"

I loved it because: hahahahahha, which of my failures to choose?

I have a few very clear memories of failure from my pre-adult life.

I remember when I was five I entered a footrace at the local park on the Fourth of July. I knew I would win because I was SO FAST. Turns out I was actually a sweaty chubby kid who reached the finish line last, gasping for breath with her ponytail askew.

I remember when I was eight performing in the school talent show with my friends Claudia, Tara and Stacey. We carefully choreographed a routine to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" that crescendoed with my three friends doing cartwheels one by one while I followed with a somersault. I couldn't do a cartwheel and it didn't matter until I heard the audience laughing as I tucked my triumphant face into my belly and rolled...rolled...rolled.

I remember being in the "smart kid" classes my whole life until seventh grade when I was tracked into an "average kid" math class. From that path forward my math and science classes never lined up with the rest of my smart-kid friends' classes.

I remember failing my driver's test.
I remember failing the open-water swim test at summer camp.
I remember the sting of not winning the academic award for foreign language study in high school, an award I was positive was MINE until I sat in the audience and saw several of my friends lined up onstage at an assembly. They marched on to spot-lighted success while I sat on a moldy chair in the dark.

 And of course the biggest failure of all.

I remember getting into a very prestigious women's college. I remember the pressure to go to the best school I could get into. I remember showing up and discovering that I was no longer automatically a "smart kid" because EVERYBODY was a smart kid. I remember how it felt to not be the smartest, or the prettiest, or the most damaged anymore. I remember how binge drinking and flirting with boys became the only currency I carried to prove my worth. I remember crouching in the window frame of my dorm room smoking cigarette after cigarette with my roommate (also a smart, good girl adrift).

I remember sleeping through class because it was easier than getting out of bed and asking for help. I remember making stupid choices. I remember being asked to take some time away to get my academics back on track. I remember sobbing in my station wagon on break from my summer job at the community pool, trying to figure out how I would tell my fellow high-achieving lifeguard friends that I had bombed out of college.

I remember running away and never going back.

So yes, many examples of failure to share with my little love. And so many examples of success amid the ruins to share as well.


  1. I think one big things that i have learned from failing (over and over) is that failing is the only way you grow and learn. How boring would it be to be perfect all the time? You wouldn't learn anything. You learn so much about yourself when you fail at things, the key is to not get down on yourself about it, you realize your limits and pick yourself back up and try again. Sure sometimes it's embarrassing and it effects things a little more than you'd like but hopefully the lesson you learn will improve things in the future more than they hurt things in the present. And also not caring what people thing about you helps.

    1. You are so right on Boosh. I think at this point in my life I'm more afraid of being small and stagnant than I am of failing.

  2. I try to hold onto the fact that ALL of my life experiences and choices - good, bad and indifferent - have brought me to where I currently am, and onto the path I am currently following, both of which are GOOD, so how can I be upset with anything that brought me to this place? You're in a good place and on a good path not in spite of, but at least in part BECAUSE of your perceived failures. Keep doing what you're doing, and Miss A will learn from your amazing example. :)