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Failure or Opportunity?

He was a late developer. As a child, he seldom spoke, and said his first words aged four. When he did, he spoke very slowly – indeed, he tried out entire sentences in his head (or muttered them under his breath) until he got them right before he spoke aloud. He did this until he was nine years old, and his parents feared he was mentally retarded. His teachers told him he would “never amount to much”.
– His name was Albert Einstein.

Her childhood nickname was “Blubber” and she was told by classmates no boy would ever fancy her and she was habitually locked in the school art cupboard. She was on the receiving end of; “it’s a shame because you have such a pretty face.” Even now she has said that this stays with her and she does not see herself as some sort of great and sexy beauty.
– Her name is Kate Winslet.

A high school dropout, he was fired from a newspaper for “lacking creativity” and “having no original ideas”. Following this, he went ahead to launch a couple of businesses; neither of which ever took off the ground and eventually he went bankrupt. As he was looking to set up his first theme park, the city of Anaheim, California rejected the idea because it would “only attract riff-raff”.
– His name was Walt Disney.

Decca Records didn’t like their sound. “Groups of guitars are on their way out”. Decca were not the only company to reject them. Many weeks were spent waiting for replies on demos only for them to come back unsuccessfully. For years they continued to play their small gigs around Merseyside until they were eventually signed.
– Their name was The Beatles.

Did any of these surprise you?

Dear Women Make Waves readers. Are you feeling like you have failed? Have things not turned out how they should have?

If so, well done for taking a chance, because without that you would have never had the opportunity to fail. Without failure, you do not receive the learning curve.
I have to confess to you all; a fear of failure is something that sometimes holds me back. I think it may be something a lot of us suffer.

I asked people their thoughts on failure; what does it mean to them?

“Reflect, learn, go again”
“Fall down seven times and rise up eight”
“A learning opportunity, a chance to change something to make it right”
“A chance to re-assess and try again”
“Failure is my teacher”
“Failure is giving up as you can always try again and again”
“It’s just one way of interpreting an event”
“Not reaching the goals I have set for myself and learning to pick myself up and try again”
“Being ‘too scared’ to try something new”
“Remembering you tried”
“No such thing to me”

“Failure is only a temporary state”

Failure has no option but to be positive. When faced with it – as seen with these answers – you must either rise up and try again or let it beat you down. Failure is hard – very hard – and has the ability to paralyse us on the spot if we are not careful. One thing that we must remember is that it is us failing that makes us quintessentially human.
Imagine if you went through life not making a single mistake – not one. Firstly, wouldn’t it be such a boring existence? Secondly, is this not how we learnt when we were young? We found out for ourselves what is good and what is bad and that was mostly through experience. So why stop in adulthood?
I feel – as adults and people of the world – we are expected to have everything together, or at the very least, we expect ourselves to. It is a cliched sentiment but we are truly our own worst enemies and are the first in line to tell ourselves what an awful job we’ve done.
When I perform as a singer, I get this occasionally. I may have what I feel is a lapse in a song, leave the stage and feel mortified and ashamed, only for others to tell me they hadn’t noticed whatsoever and were far more invested in telling me I sang beautifully and tenderly. Of course, by this point in the conversation I am sometimes in disbelief because I have been so busy concentrating on my “failure”.
So therefore, wouldn’t it be much nicer if we could all break the negative molds we make for ourselves?
For every failure, find more successes. They don’t have to be big successes. Then, learn from failure and move on.

“I got a B instead of an A on that essay. That’s a shame, but I learnt so much whilst researching for it and it has sparked an interest in the subject. Maybe I’ll ask for feedback and go for a better grade next time.”

“We broke up. It hurts, but tell you what, I’m glad it happened because I have a lot of amazing memories. There were a few things I shouldn’t have done, but I’ll learn from it and it will make my next relationship even better.”

“I didn’t get the job. Yeah, I did want it but maybe it’ll clear the path for something even better to replace it. I wasn’t too well prepared so I’ll definitely take more time to plan next time.”

As of today, I issue you a challenge. If someone tells you ‘no’, come back even harder next time. Do not accept it. If the door closes, get in via the window or better yet, make your own door. If something doesn’t go your way, I challenge you to find the silver lining. If we let our failings conquer us then we remain in one place never learning, never experiencing, static; and that is the definition of true failure to me.

One last one to end you all on;

As a child, she was badly asthmatic and slightly podgy. She was bullied for her weight from the age of 9. Her grades were average, unless she had a personal interest in the subject. Developing a passion for music, she started training her voice at the age of 14. At 16, she was told by a classmate she would never take it further because she wasn’t good enough. She was told the same aged 17 by a teacher, and dropped out of school. She went on to do a Foundation Degree in Music Technology, an Associates Diploma in Recital Singing, and a Bachelors Degree in Music, and will soon be doing a teaching degree followed by a Masters in Fine Arts, studying the combined effects of the Arts on our mindset, with a view to use it in a teaching or healing environment.
– Her name was Bailey Benton; me.

What will yours be?

What does failure mean to you? Why not let me know in the comments below.


  • Janni Ke Janni Ke says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this article. Somehow, this was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you, and I mean that from the bottom of my little heart. Great read as well, well done!

    • Amy Tocknell says:

      This is what it’s all about, supporting each other and offering reassurance that someone else knows how we are feeling. Great to see us all starting to interact with all the articles so positively! xx

    • Thank-you, both of you. Sometimes my inspiration to write comes from the fact I’m going through it. My body positivity article was born from my constant battle with my self image and my want to help others with theirs. This one was born from my own occasional fear of failure as well as others I know going through the same. I tend to work on “ripples in the pond”; if I’ve helped one person then that’s good. Thank-you for reading!

      • I love this article. Life is all about success and failure. It’s what makes us stronger and grow and usually things turn out all right in the end. I agree about it being a positive thing also. Lovely read :) xx

  • Sarah Sarah says:

    Failure, to me, only happens when I give up altogether. What others might call failure I only call a lesson learned, gearing me up to try another route.

  • Anna says:

    Wow! Just “discovered” you today, and would like to sign up for a Gold Membership for your fan club. Gosh, you write well and that’s just the HOW. Don’t get me started on the WHAT, the things you have to share beyond how beautifully you string your sentences together. This one got me right in the heart. I heart you! xxxx

  • Felicity Felicity says:

    I try really hard to see the world this way. I’ve made a lot of wrong turns but they’ve all somehow led to a good place, albeit not the place I originally intended.

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