The Uphill Slide

There is always something.



Create a resume of failures.  What an idea to think someone’s failures could be as interesting as their successes and might give us confidence to keep trying. You’ve met that person who just seems as if he/she could do anything, haven’t you? The person you think has never failed? The one who always looks great? The one who has the ideal partner? The one with the dream job? The one with a beautiful house? The one who has the things you’ve always thought you wanted? But, everyone has their failures.

You know that I don’t have it all. I’m not that person. I’ve had many failures. I wrote this short list (my full list would be pages of big ones and little ones) of failures:

I got an F in physics in high school (Last 6-week period, so my parents never had to sign the report card).

I didn’t get picked for the yearbook staff (Don’t know why).

I didn’t make it for majorette (I was really terrible).

I didn’t win the spelling bee (Stupid. I spelled the word exactly as the person before me [copyright]).

I flunked a bunch of classes and quit Penn State (I often didn’t even go to class.).

I flunked the typing test to get a job at the electric company in Tucson (I was in over my head on that one.).

I didn’t get hired at USAir (Who really knows?).

My flower business didn’t make any money (I think I didn’t try hard enough or just wrong place).

I was reminiscing with someone this weekend about high school years. And there it was, the yearbook staff failure. What a silly thing! But maybe that one small thing changed everything. It must mean something, shouldn’t it? It must or I would have forgotten all about it. Every little success and failure created me, well not entirely. There is heredity too. But that little failure might have been the one to push me into writing words for strangers or the willingness to expose myself to criticism and failure. I’ve never risked myself this much. I think failures prepare us to appreciate success and other inevitable failures.

What really might be interesting, though, would be to create a resume of failures and successes and put together the story of how people deal with both. Does a failure drive you to a success or does a failure keep pushing to other failures? Or does a success keep leading to more successes? For some people, though, failures are unbearable. John Kennedy Toole wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Confederancy of Dunces but was unable to find a publisher for his book. He committed suicide never waiting long enough for the success that would come to his work.

Why it feels so good to read about this Princeton professor’s failures by Ana Swanson

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