Life lessons can be so hard. When did you last set your heart on something and failed? How often does fear of failure keep you from even trying?
I don’t know how it happened, but somehow I blinked and my oldest child is in middle school. Middle school! I feel myself struggling under the weight of this change. I was just following the bus to the elementary school to make sure he knew how to get from said bus to his Kindergarten classroom. And now here he is with a locker, and seven different classrooms that he doesn’t need my help getting to. My boy is growing up.
I appreciate some aspects of his growing up. He can shower himself, dress himself, tie his own shoes, (mostly) keep track of his own homework, make his own mac and cheese, babysit, and even run fast with me. But some parts of this growing up are breaking my heart into a million pieces.
Last week he decided to try out for the middle school cross-country team. He hadn’t practiced much all summer, but we figured he’d make it on the team for sure. We were devastated later that night when we found out he didn’t make the team. Yes, I’m a running coach. And my son hadn’t made the cross-country team.
He felt like a failure, and so did I. I hadn’t prepped him. In fact, I didn’t know they would actually cut anybody from the team. It’s 6th grade, for crying out loud.
That night I sat with him on his bed while my sweet boy told me his heart. He felt like a failure, like he isn’t good at anything–which just isn’t true. So I spent the next hour telling him how amazing he is, and how lucky I am to be his mom.
One of the hardest things about growing up is learning to pick yourself back up and try again. Having a growth mindset means that it’s okay to fail, but it’s not okay to not try.
The fear of failure can be agonizing. But you know what’s worse? The fear of failing again. In the safe confines of my son’s bedroom, he expressed his fears to me. And I told him the same thing.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “failed.” I failed when trying out for things in High School, I failed at several relationships, I’ve failed at least a million times as a mom, and I failed when trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon several times. My list of failures is a mile long.
Failures (i.e. challenges, mistakes, defeat, lessons–whatever you prefer) are guaranteed. What matters most, however, isn’t the fact that you fell short of reaching your goals. What really matters is what you do immediately after you fall.
Just because you mess up doesn’t mean you should give up. When you get knocked down, it doesn’t mean that you’re weak or incapable or stupid. It just means that you’re human, and you’re incredibly brave for even trying.
I’m afraid this is just the beginning of watching my kids experience true disappointment. But as Marie Forleo says, “A fall isn’t final unless you stay on the ground.”
As much as I hated watching my son fail at something he really had his heart set on, I loved watching him pick himself back up. He’s already excited about basketball tryouts, he was genuinely happy for his good friend that made the cross-country team, and he’s thinking about joining a running club at school. He’s not staying on the ground. Next time you fall, neither should you.
In the comments, tell me about a time you failed and how you picked yourself back up. What did you learn, and how did you grow because of your failure? We ALL fail. That’s how we grow. It’s what we do with that failure that matters.
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