Failure isn’t fun. I don’t think anyone sits around and says, “I’d like to really suck at something today.” Yeah, that doesn’t happen. It is in our nature to want to succeed at every task we attempt. Unfortunately, that’s not the way the world works. There will be times where you attempt something that doesn’t pan out. A failed business, or relationship, or maybe even a hobby that just wasn’t your thing. As adults, we have a better understanding of failure. Kids? Not so much.

My oldest son is very smart. Borderline ridiculous smart. And he’s the one I worry about the most. Because being smart might make things easier for you in certain situations, like, understanding quantum physics, but you still have to apply yourself in the trying of the things.

Smart to my kid is beginning to look like he has everything in the bag just because he’s smart. And as adults, we know that isn’t quite the case. Practice, dedication and hard work are still paramount no matter how smart you are. And with his high IQ comes an overwhelming sense of fear when it comes to failure. It seems he would prefer not to try if the odds are he might fail. This is bad, and I’ve been worrying about this more and more.

Yesterday, my nephew was celebrating his birthday at a local roller rink. Although he’s been roller skating before, coordination tasks aren’t really my oldest’s favorite activities and he stated on the way there that he wasn’t planning on skating. When we got to the party I talked him into getting on some skates, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I posed. “I could spend the entire party on my butt,” he countered. “True, but you’ll spend it on your butt with skates on your feet as opposed to wearing your shoes in that chair over there.”

Mom: 1, 10-year-old: 0.

And that’s when the most miraculous thing happened.

He skated.

And he sucked, and he fell, and then he sucked less, and then he fell less.

And before he even realized it, he was having fun. With every completed revolution around the rink he’d call out to me, “Mom, I only fell once that time,” or “I haven’t fallen in the last 15 laps.”

The smile on his handsome tween face lit that skating rink brighter than the florescent lights bouncing off the disco ball. Watching him try with the fear of failure looming in the background was a moment I will always treasure, and remind him of over and over again when he attempts to back out of shit.

‘Cause I’m a mom like that.

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2 Thoughts on “The Fear of Failure

  1. Yesssss… I fall more than I stand, but at least I keep getting up!

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