Last week my teen experienced a couple of disappointing setbacks; one was of an academic nature and the other had to do with a dance audition. She’s a sensitive soul, so it hurt me to see her have to deal with the pain of failure and rejection. I wanted to tell her not to worry, and that in my eyes she’s super smart and talented. But, I also never want her to feel that her self-worth must be determined by her ability to produce certain outcomes. No, I’d rather she accept her failures for what they are and know that they are stepping stones to whatever is next.
Fortunately, I’m well acquainted with the sting of failure, so I was able to offer what was hopefully some sage advice. I mean, if not for my past failures many of my successes may never have been realized. So, drawing on a couple of recent experiences, I shared with her how at first the sting feels unpleasant, but as the pain subsides it gives way to a clearer view and understanding of what just happened.
With fresh eyes and a less clouded perspective, it’s then easier to discern if continued effort and persistence is worth it, or if maybe it’s time to completely move on. There is after all, often a fine line between knowing when to keep working on something and when giving up is actually the better/healthier option.
Thankfully, our heart-to-heart helped her to find the clarity and peace of mind that she needed. She was able to make choices that personally, I am proud of. Additionally, she understood and accepted that although failure and rejection sucks, it’s not personal! It’s not about her, it’s about her work/performance. And that revelation alone, small as it was, provided the greatest comfort.