My daughters have today been at a singing festival. They have been practising for ages and were prepared well. Unfortunately, my 8 year old has had a ‘poorly’ throat and we had said that we might decide to say that she was going to pull out. She rested (as much as a boisterous young girl can) and yesterday we said that she could take part.
The girls had entered two main classes, with my eldest doing an additional Unaccompanied folk song class. They both performed well, but on the day my 6 year old gained 3rd place in both classes, complete with certificates, and my 8 year old wasn’t placed at all. She immediately dropped her shoulders, dropped her head and her mood plummeted along with it.
As a mum, I am immediately filled with guilt; should we have stopped her from performing because we knew she wouldn’t have been able to gain a place? Should we have prepared her more for the fact that she might not do as well this week as she did gaining a 1st and 2nd in her dance festival last week? And what about my other daughter, her achievement completely overshadowed by the failure of her big sister?
My eldest has had the biggest lesson today that I think she has ever had. How do you deal with failure and rejection? How do you bounce back? How do you realise that sometimes what you do just isn’t what others expect ‘the best’ to be?
I asked her what would happen if she only failed in something when she was grown up? Her answer encouraged me: ‘it would be harder’. I continued the conversation by asking why it would be harder, ‘because we wouldn’t have had any practise at doing it’.
Can you imagine the number of adults who struggle to deal with rejection and failure; in job interviews, in relationships, in competitions and other life event, simply because they have not had enough practise of dealing with this type of disappointment?
I am so proud of my daughters. I am especially proud of my 8 year old, who, when faced with rejection and defeat has been able, in just 3 short hours, to become philosophical and see it as character building. The old phrase ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is a cliché but has a grounding in truth. For my daughter, she is growing into a young lady who can deal with defeat and rejection and not get swallowed up in it.
I can’t wait to meet her when she is 25.