This past week, my son had his first experience with middle school sport tryouts. As a former cheerleader coach (yes, you read that right!), I happen to know a little about this process. It’s hard on kids if they don’t make the cut. When the basketball team roster was posted Wednesday, my son learned that you don’t always get exactly what you want (at least exactly when you want it). It’s a difficult, but necessary lesson in life.
Thirty-seven boys tried out and 18 made the team (which is still a humongous basketball team), so we reminded him that more boys didn’t make it than did. Still, he came to the conclusion that if he wasn’t good enough to make the team, then he must be bad.
Isn’t this what so many of us do when we fail? We believe the worst about ourselves? I know I’ve been guilty of this at times, too. But failure doesn’t have to be final. Instead, we can use it as a springboard to launch ourselves back into the game. After getting over his initial hurt and disappointment, my son has decided he wants to attend basketball camp this summer, keep practicing his skills, and try out again next year. To me, this is exactly the attitude we need to have.
I hear of so many writers who complete one book and query it a handful of times. When they get rejections, they give up. They decide writing must not be for them. I guess I’m wired differently . . . because giving up has never really crossed my mind. One particular book might be a “failure”, but that doesn’t mean, you as a writer, are.
The day my son learned he didn’t make the team, my husband asked him if he knew which famous person didn’t make the cut when they tried out for their high school team. You wanna know who it was?
We have to remind ourselves that even the greatest athletes or writers or musicians or artists have all failed at some point or another. Probably many times over. But the difference between them and so many others is that after that failure, they picked themselves up and kept going. They carried on instead of quitting. For them, failure wasn’t final.
Don’t let it be for you either.