“Failure is not an option.”
It’s been said multiple times.
It’s spoken when the pressure is on and something has reached its ‘make-it-or-break-it’ moment. It’s rehearsed in the college student’s head when he/she is sitting in their final exam praying to pass so their future won’t be ruined or at best delayed.
You’ve heard the sentence more than once in your life in multiple occasions. But how about I break all your preconceived notions and state something that you know is true yet, refuse to believe-
Failure is the ONLY option.
It’s the painful truth.
And, to be honest, I keep forgetting it.
If I had to list my top three fears it would have to be heights, failure, and rejection. I don’t know why, but those three things really get to me, ya know?
There are so many things I would like to see myself achieve in my lifetime, but because of these three fears I have limited myself dramatically. Why am I afraid of something so natural as failing? I believe it has something to do with the way I was taught in school. It didn’t happen so much in my days as it does now, but growing up the idea that there could only be one winner was being eradicated in school systems.
Ahh, maybe further explanation would help.
These awards were becoming popular in schools all over the country in my day. Even if the student didn’t win first, second, or third place there was always the participation award to make them feel better. Nothing is wrong with participation awards or the intention in which it was implemented however, there are still side-effects to this kind of teaching. While I can understand the sentiment of building up children confidence’s in themselves and their capabilities, always catering to their feelings with a badge of an award and cooing in their ear that they are just as good as everyone else can do more harm than good.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that everyone has a talent that they each can bring to the table as much as the next guy yet, telling each child that they are just as good as the person who has worked to get to where they are, may not be the best method.
I know, I know, they might’ve tried their best and fell short. It sucks, it really does. I get that.
And as much as I wish it weren’t true, in life sometimes a person’s best isn’t good enough.
This insecurity that comes to us and at times overwhelms us, we can’t give into it. We can’t however, pretend that it doesn’t exist.
Why? Because I believe, the only way we can understand how to become better as something is through failing.
It may even lead us to a better path- our personal path that will allow us to shine the way we are supposed to.
If I’m honest..
Writing this is very hard for me.
Growing up, I was that kid. The one that was chosen last in every sports game, the one who fell short in her academics, and who was awkward to the core of her bones. I am also a middle child surrounded by siblings who have amazing talents both physically and mentally. You can image how hard it was to prove that I was worth a second glance to myself and to others. I grew up feeling like I would never, could never be the best because of some inner fault of mine. It didn’t matter how hard I worked, for some reason I would never measure up.
I remember studying my butt off when I was in elementary school during the summer months. My siblings were both given the same amount of work as I by our mother, but they always finished before me and were allowed to play. I would sit at the dining room table watching them wishing I could just finish my assignments so I could play too. One day my mother noticed me looking out the window helplessly and told me –“Julena, I know it’s hard, but you have to put in twice the effort to understand the things that may come simple to them. So don’t try to compare yourself with them. It takes more effort on your part to accomplish the same thing but it’ll be worth it in the end.”
Those words at first were extremely hard to hear. I mean, what child wants to be told by their mother that they have to work harder to get the same achievements as someone else?
For months I would wonder if I had some disability mentally or physically that hindered me from being as good as everyone else, but that was never the case. I learned differently from my siblings and at the time I hadn’t found the method that worked best for me. It was only through time and MANY failed attempts that I finally found a method that worked.
If my mother hadn’t essentially told me it was okay to fail a few times, I would’ve probably caved under the intense feeling that I was too different and done something regretful that would’ve changed the course of my life.
The fear of failing and not being good enough is REAL. We all feel it. Sometimes we don’t think we measure up and our best is never good enough, but that feeling shouldn’t stifle us until we are burned out. On the contrary, it should ignite us with such a passion to prove ourselves and our worth.
Let’s be honest with ourselves…
Failing makes the world go round. Because of it, new inventions are made, ground-breaking discoveries are uncovered, technological advances occur and vaccines are created. Without failing how will we ever learn how to do something new?
All the greats failed at something in their life and, because of their failure the luxuries we have today are made possible. For some, it was the reason they chose the path that made them great. If we never fail, we have no reason to try harder or learn something new. We won’t ever fully appreciate the effort that it took to get to where we are because it isn’t something we truly earned-it’s as if it was given to us. We feel entitled to everything we perceive as ours instead of respecting it for it’s true worth.
I repeat, it’s okay to fail. It really is.
Failing is natural and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up when it happens.
We should shake off the dust and get back up again, because real failure is in being defeated when we are knocked down. As long as we keep getting up, the fight isn’t over and we haven’t really failed ourselves or anyone else.
So, the next time someone says to you-“failure isn’t an option”- you tell them, “failure is an option. Defeat however, is not.”
**Gifs found on Google Images**