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Don't be afraid of failure


I'm a competitor. When I used to pitch in high school, I had a routine before the game started where I would stretch, run the length of the outfield fence, and play long toss. I got myself mentally prepared. I told myself, "No one is going to beat me today." I was good, and people who watched me pitch could attest to that.


So, as you can guess, I don't like to lose. Yet just as often that I've won, I've lost. Even when I lose at meaningless things, it bothers me. I used to be halfway decent at bags, for example. Years ago, I was in a bags tournament and made it into the playoffs, but I've stunk it up recently. I can't remember the last time I won a round at bags. My throws are all over the place.


I'm engaged in a Words with Friends game with my cousin right now. It started yesterday, and the reason that this marathon game is still going is because of me. I'm behind 213 to 188 with 25 words to go, and have realized that I take an incredibly long time in between moves. This not only goes for this game, but for other thinking games like Chess as well. The reason? I don't like to lose.


I overthink. I've been literally looking at every possibility on this Words for Friends game that can attain me the most points. It gets to the point where I try to make up words, even though I know that a word like 'wut' is definitely not a word, but I just want the darn thing to fit for the 36 points I could score.


This goes counterproductive to every thing I tell my students. Be competitive, yes. I do believe that being competitive in life is healthy, in certain doses. You also have to accept failure though. When you lose on the baseball field, no one likes a sore loser. You need to shake the opposing players' hands in admiration, even if you don't want to. They played better than you, and that's okay. You'll get them next time.


The White Sox are on a great five game win streak right now. They've been fun to watch, but I've also sat through games where they have infuriated me. Failure comes with success in all walks of life. You can't have one without the other. It's all about how you handle yourself in that failure and go out the next time.


Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" in reference to him creating the lightbulb. Just as my students shouldn't be afraid to fail, I shouldn't be afraid to fail in order to achieve success. This school year will be one like no other, and a lot of it will be trial and error. I will do my best to prepare, but as in every year, preparation only takes you so far once school begins. Failure is bound to happen at some point. It's how a teacher self reflects on their failure to turn their failure into a success the following day. That's what makes a good teacher.


I enjoy bags. I enjoy Words with Friends. I'm better at some things than others. It is ironic that I can write so effortlessly but struggle at coming up with a word on Words for Friends, but life is full of such ironies. I shouldn't focus on winning and losing in all situations, but on what brings enjoyment to a life filled with work and a society filled with so many negative situations.


With all of this being said, don't be afraid of failure and don't be angry at yourself when you do fail. It happens to all of us. Take it as a moment to reflect and grow because that's what will make you truly successful.

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