As Rudyard Kipling once said, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same…”  

Today my daughter found out she didn’t passs her exam. A year of work – a two day test – and she failed. There were some in her class who passed, others who didn’t. She was one of them. So now what? It means another year before she can take the test again. A year where she could have been working part time as a teacher, and now she has to find something else. It also means she has to adjust and be flexible. Plans were made, plans fell apart. As she said to me, “I cried two tears, then figured I’d change my plans.” That’s my girl. 

Who hasn’t failed? I do it all the time. The last manuscript I sent out came back with “Sorry, this isn’t quite right for us.” My last job interview was an absolute disaster. Sometimes it’s a bad fit – I sent the book out to a publisher that wasn’t looking for that genre right now. Sometimes it’s bad luck. My interview happened during a migraine attack and I couldn’t keep two thoughts straight in my head. Epoch fail. And yet, the book went right back out to a different publisher and I have a job I like. Each failure teaches me something & it causes something to happen – so it’s not necessarily negative.

My son failed the first time he passed his exam too, but he stuck with it, and passed it the next year. It takes character to stick to an idea and hold onto a dream. If you want it enough, often it will happen. Failure makes it all the more precious. I won’t tell you how many rejection letters I have. I’ve been fired from jobs. I’ve applied to jobs and never heard back. I’ve applied and been told I wasn’t right for the position. All that is failure. Each one is a lesson.

There are people who are brilliant – who succeed at everything and who shine. And who give up after the first mishap. There are others, more determined, and who never let failure stop them. Sometimes it means adjusting your goals. Triumph and disaster – imposters both of them. What’s real is crying two tears, straightening your shoulders and marching on.

What I want to tell my daughter is that no matter what happens, I love her. No matter if she fails three more times, or thirty. Or three hundred and thirty – it doesn’t matter. Write that book and send it off. Take that exam. Apply for that job. And when and if you fail, press the memory like a flower and keep it. It will change you, and after a while you’ll see that each failure was just a step leading towards your final destination.

~ For if that climb wasn’t as hard, and the hill so high; when reaching the top, would the view be as grand?