Failure Is An Option
Growing up, teachers and parents tell us that "failure is not an option." On the contrary, failure is an option, but only if you learn from it.
In science, we experiment and fail; in engineering, we design and fail; in technology, we create and fail; and in math, we try and fail.
The famous slogan, "failure is not an option," brings about extreme anxiety. It can make anyone feel less than perfect because perfection was the only option; yet, we teach children they don't have to be perfect but mandate that they don't fail. Well! How contradictory and confusing is that for a child and an adult.
Failure is an option!
In my classroom, I teach students that failure is an option, and when they fail, to fail with confidence and grace. Why? We are learning, growing, and developing new skills. We are in an environment that allows us to be free and ourselves, yet they don’t feel that way. It’s hard for students to grasp this concept and accept the fact that it's okay to fail and it’s okay to “not be okay.” It has taken me years to accept this same concept.
In my adolescent days, I was carefree, and I believed that failure was an option. Somewhere between getting my master’s degree and finding a career, I became what society wanted me to be: an intelligent, submissive black woman. That was very much then, and still true now, not me. I was raised to stand my ground and speak up for what I believe is right, even if I am “wrong.” I teach these lessons in my class to my students. My former students can attest to me expressing the importance of speaking confidently and graciously even when they thought they were wrong.
Every day is a new day to try something new and to fail possibly. Teachers rearrange seats to separate talkative students because they failed at some point. They rearrange their lesson plans because they fail to reach their students’ achievement and success. Parents fail when their children complain of being smothered when all they try to do is protect them. We are human, and we fail at life every day. We fail to pay a bill; we fail to get to work on time, and/or we fail to follow a dream.
I always thought I was afraid to succeed and began associating this concept with a fear of heights. This is what I told myself for years, and as it turns out, I have a fear of failing and falling. Just because we’re told “once something goes up, it has to come down” does not mean that “rule” is our truth. In reality, we can fail and/or fall, and now we know how to climb, so in true human capacity, we strive for perfection, and we do it fearlessly!
I leave you with this: As I watch Piglet step up, down, and even sit on the step stool to get on my bed, the sofa, or to stand on it, the first time she failed to step on and off the step stool properly, I cried. I comforted her and encouraged her by reassuring her by saying, “it’s okay.” Now, she tells herself, “it’s okay” or “you’re okay” when she tries something new. It’s okay to fail, and it’s a good thing to fail, a good thing to learn from the mistakes, a good thing to try again, and a good thing to succeed. In fact, it may take 2, 3, 4, or more times to get it right; do not give up!