Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Failure in Adulthood

I realized that I am really good at orchestrating my life into "do well" or "not do well" but there were virtually no areas where I could actually fail. Are you similar? Do you avoid situations where you can fail?

What do I mean "do well" or "not do well"? Some random examples:

- I suck in the batting cages. It's just something I'm not able to do well but I enjoy being there and trying new things. Any time I put some bat on a ball, it's a bonus. I'm bad at it but it's not a failure.

- Any job allows for mistakes. But mistakes aren't failures - they're just mistakes. My most recent position gave me a lot of leverage to create and find solutions to problems. They were flexible with me and allowed me to take the lead on many projects. When I made a mistake, I had to fix it on my own and make things right. I didn't get fired or demoted. I just had to fix it. (Enter snarky comment here: Even the complete screw ups didn't get fired. They just got bounced around from area to area because companies now are too afraid to get sued for wrongful termination.) There was no failure, just trial and error.

This week taught me a lesson in failure. Two weeks into school, I had my first homework assignment and first quiz. I knew I got the homework question correct but still received a 3/5 because I didn't explain my answer. The quiz was an absolute nightmare. Though I did the practice problems and studied the material, my mind went blank and I know I bombed 2 of the 4 questions.

This isn't a presumed failure. This isn't a "I feel like I'm failing". This is a "here's your paper, you failed". Slap to the face reality check here! Ped told me this is going to make me a better teacher because I will be able to relate to the students as they struggle to grasp concepts. He also told me that it's just one quiz and there's a lot of semester left.

Of course he's right. But I'm still struggling with a new sense of self - my old orchestrated life was full of choosing to only do things of which I did well.  This new life includes a currently unsuccessful job search and failing my first review as a student. As I cried in Ped's office after the quiz because of complete and utter disappointment in myself, my own thoughts of quitting were louder than his words of encouragement.

Today is a new day though. Pursuing something you want always comes with failure. Always. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I am actually pursuing something versus taking the easy route. Two more applications out, a trip to the Board of Education to request more information on substituting, legally changing my name, and studying at the local library are today's to-dos. I will not quit. I have to keep telling myself that an F on a quiz does not equal an F in life.

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