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Having the Courage to Fail

January 10, 2018

Well hi there! Happy New Year!


I’m Meredith, and I’ll be your guest blogger today. I’m a wife, middle school teacher, Enneagram 3, occasional actor, lover of all things floral, sparkly, and donut-y, Gilmore Girls fangirl, and the mom of a toddler (who is VERY much a two year old right now, thank you very much).


I am also extremely afraid of failure -- which has proven to be quite difficult for me because as mom and a teacher, I make a complete mess of things at least twelve times a day. Factor in the wife role, and that number gets higher.


I hate failing at things. And if I do fail at something, I definitely hate for people to know it. It makes me feel vulnerable and exposed and like I’m not good at anything.  It makes me think      “Well, I messed this up ROYALLY, but someone else out there is totally nailing it.”


Somehow, I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way.  


But why is that? Why are we so afraid to fail? I think,for me personally, maybe it’s the innate fear that if people know I failed they will lose love and respect for me. But guess what?


They won’t.


People love us for who we are, not for our success. And trust me, we are not defined by our success. That’s hard to accept because we live in this world that rewards people for being “the best.” It values success without much regard to the journey it took to get there. However, we all know that the journey, with its insane amount of highs, lows, detours, failures, and discoveries, is the most important part.  It is okay to mess up a little or to mess up a lot. It is okay to totally screw it up and start from scratch. Most importantly, it’s okay to admit failure to ourselves. In fact, we must. We must give ourselves grace. Because failing at something doesn’t make us failures. Besides, is failure even a bad thing? Maybe not. It means that we are doers.


It means that we cared about something enough to try it, and that we have the courage to get up and try it again and again and again.




I love my middle school students. They are smart, witty, and full of life. They are also giant balls of stress and anxiety. These kids are so afraid to mess up. Their vulnerable, adolescent years are being spent in the 24/7 glow of social media, so they feel like they always need to be “on” (different blog topic for another time). I teach theatre, so mistakes can be the gateway to creativity. To break down those walls, we’ve started celebrating mistakes. If a student messes up on something in front of the class (and they feel comfortable enough to do so), they’ll simply throw up their hands and gloriously, unapologetically yell, “I made a mistake!” The rest of the class cheers for them, celebrating -- “You made a mistake. Yay!!!” By the class celebrating with them, it gives the student a safety net. It gives them permission to mess up, and it assures them that they are definitely not the only ones who fail at something. Failure might make us vulnerable, but vulnerability is how we build relationships.


So this year, let’s give ourselves grace over perfection. Let’s gloriously and unapologetically admit when we screw up. Let’s support each other in our journeys, knowing that we are definitely not alone and probably not even screwing up as badly as we think.  And most of all, let us never forget that we are loved, valued, and absolutely worth it because of who we are, not what we do.


We’ve got this, y’all.


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