She’s Going to Fail! The Life Lesson I Learned From Soccer

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A few weeks ago I was scrolling through social media and came across an article about school success. I don’t remember much about it except it set off an alert in my head.

At some point, my daughter is going to fail.

You see, my daughter is 5 and just started Pre-K. Our first brush with “real” school. For whatever reason, this article gave me a clear acknowledgment that now that she is in school, there are going to be times when she doesn’t get the answers right, when her effort won’t be good enough, and in fact, she might fail something. Why had I never considered this before? A few days went by, and I forgot about the article, but not necessarily this new realization. 

Score one for life. 

I was reminded of this again a few days later as she played in her first soccer game. This is her first time playing a team sport (she’s done other activities, but nothing with games). I thought we were ready, we had bought the equipment, gone to practice, and here we were at the game. Seeing the other team gave me another lightning bolt, she could lose. Again, why had I not considered this?

What hit me the most about these situations was the fact that I wasn’t ready to experience her failure. I’ve spent her whole life trying to protect her, and I finally realized that I can’t protect her from failure. 

Embracing Failure.

So here I was fearing her first real failure, all the while knowing that failure is actually good for us. I mean, I teach this concept to college students. Every day, I am encouraging students to work through the tough times, to accept that they won’t always be perfect, and that’s a good thing. But my heart broke just thinking about my daughter being the one to fail. 

You win some, you lose some. 

So back to soccer. Game 1 was amazing, the girls gave all their effort, had fun, and they won. On to game 2. It was rainy, there was some confusion, and we lost. The time had come. And you know what, she didn’t care. She still had fun. Now I know this won’t be her last failure, nor was this a big one in the grand scheme of life. But we survived. She’s just as ready for the next game as she was after a win. As it turns out, while I may not have been ready, she was. And once again, I was learning from my daughter, per usual. I think I’m finally ready – not to protect her from failure, but to keep encouraging her to embrace her failures. 

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