All Those Times I Failed

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Occasionally after I share photos and short blurbs of a story or caption on social media, I’ll run into someone who saw my post(s) and they’ll say, “You’re good at everything!” I laugh even as I type that statement. Well, laugh + cringe.

In reality, we all share the highlight reels of our lives and hide the failures, and honestly . . . I’m generally okay with that as a user and consumer on social media. But, I do think it’s worth acknowledging, for every achievement and accomplishment I personally share — there’s normally A LOT of failed attempts behind the scenes.

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When I graduated from college, I wanted to get into a Ph.D program to ultimately become a clinical psychologist. I took the graduate school entrance exam four times, I applied to nine graduate programs, and I got rejected by every school. I later started a masters program in economics where I got 75% of the way done and failed the same class three times and could not move forward in the program; leaving me to start over from square one with a new school and new program several years later before I finally got a Masters in Business Administration (with all A’s, but who’s counting?).

But publicly, I shared the photo of my MBA graduation and the expensive shoes I bought myself after I submitted my last assignment.

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I flew to NYC to pitch my first book and my proposal went into a black hole after sending it to a publishing company that was initially interested. I spent three months pitching my idea to literary agents only to receive an inbox full of rejection letters before I ultimately went the self publishing route.

But publicly, I shared the photo of my book cover once it was done.

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I have pitched articles to comedy websites, the New York Times, and Chicken Soup for the Soul and received the standard “thanks, but no thanks” note from all of them.

But publicly, I share the ones that go somewhere or I publish them myself on my own website.

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I have applied for a number of promotions throughout the 14 years of my professional career that have ended with not even getting an interview even when I know the hiring managers well. Or I get the interview, and suddenly can’t articulate why I am even qualified to be in the room.

But publicly, I share the moments when I have a title change and a new desk.

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I have taken more blurry photos or photos that are so bad when it comes to lighting that people would wonder if I knew how to even turn my camera on correctly. I can also commonly be found trying to shoot with the lens cap on.

But publicly, I share the photos that are edited.

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I have given so many speeches or presentations where my neck has broken out in hives because I wasn’t prepared and I default to starting every sentence with, “Sooooo . . . .” while simultaneously not pausing between sentences.

But publicly, I share the ones where I have months of preparation or a speaking coach.

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Don’t even get me started on that time I auditioned for “The Sound of Music” in 5th grade and didn’t even get the token “group choir” part. I can’t even . . .

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I passed my drivers test by 1 point. I didn’t pass all my high school senior proficiency exams and had to do an extra week of school to take final exams when those who passed got to be done with school a week early. I graduated high school with a 2.9 gpa. I went to my second choice of colleges.

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The point of the story is — there’s no shame in any of these “failures” even if they don’t make the front page news of my social media updates . . . but do not be deceived and think they do not exist (for me or anyone else that you’re consuming their social media posts). In my experience, it takes 10x sometimes before something finally gives. Maybe God just doesn’t think you should play a lead in “The Sound of Music” even if you think you would’ve nailed the part of Louisa von Trapp. Or maybe there’s something better for you around the corner. Or maybe the “win” was the fact that you asked your mom to buy you a new dress and take you to an audition in the first place. Or maybe you start your own community theatre program and cast yourself as the lead or cast others who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to live their acting dreams.

Or maybe it’s all a test of how bad you really want it and if you’re willing to start a graduate program over and over and over until you have enough professional maturity to consume what you’re learning.

Or maybe passing a test by one point is still passing a test.

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I’m not good at everything.

I’m mediocre at the majority of things.

But I’m ALWAYS willing to give it a try.

Or two.

Or ten.