When Failure Is A Person's Success: Overcoming Apraxia & Life

    Why are we so afraid of failure? Not of our own failure, but of our children's? I don't have a child, of course we all know this, but I sometimes find myself more worried about my younger sister's  failures than I am my own.

    We are so afraid of other people failing because we know how much it sucks. Each and every one of us has failed miserably at some point in our lives, no matter how huge or how small. We recognize the struggle, the frustration and the overall feeling of disappointment.

   I'll be honest, I've failed in numerous areas. I technically never 'passed' speech therapy and I've failed countless exams: A spelling test [I got 19 wrong out of 20], an Economics Exam I actually studied for [I got 0/100], and my AP Spanish Exam in High School. I felt like a failure when I crashed my brand new car against a wall [Whoops]. I failed miserably at a Swim Meet too.

    Now before you think it's "just swimming," you must understand, I LOVED swimming. It was my life and my joy, I swam almost 6-7 hours a day and loved the Butterfly Stroke. That swim meet one was tough; I threw out my shoulder swimming Butterfly at my first Varsity Meet. I was in first place too, but throwing out my shoulder and obviously I lost that within seconds. Mind you, West Point ROTC  at UCLA was scouting me; they needed more female swimmers to compete against the Navy, which is pretty cool. I was supposed to report my swim times to them (I was a sophomore in High School, but my butterfly time was that of a College Freshman). After throwing out my shoulder during the race, I was out for that season and lost my speed for years. But, that race? I finished it. At least in the grand scheme of things, I can say I swam butterfly one-armed and earned last place.  I tucked the injured arm by my torso, swam the last two laps with one arm at a competitive meet, crying and cursing in pain with every stroke. I'll never forget the feeling of the pool water pushing against my throbbing shoulder, it was painful, but all I was thinking was that I'd only fail if I gave up and, if it were my last race, I was going to finish it. After I even emailed the recruiter saying my fly time that race was 3 minutes (when it was supposed to be a little more than a minute) and, oh by the way, I'm out for the next 3 months because I injured my shoulder. 

    Yeah, they never emailed me back. Can't say I blame them. I did not swim competitively in college either, which at the time was one of my dreams. 

     Point is though, I am not going to preach or lie to you and say that I've never felt failure. Frankly, for me to write to you and say "You need to fail to succeed" and NOT share how I failed, well that doesn't seem effective. 

     If you've ever had the feeling of everything you worked for taken away or the feeling that you work twice as hard for bread crumbs-then you know that fight and that initial failure put you hopefully in a successful position today. It taught you something you did not know before. 

     We use failure to learn our true strengths, to re-compass ourselves, and to find ourselves. 

    Now, for our Apraxia Warriors, they face failure at a very young age. They learn the truth that no matter how much work you put in, doesn't automatically guarantee you'll "win." It means you work and try again. These kids with Apraxia are barely getting by in their classes, but technically passing. They are mediocre students, but they are extremely hard workers. They are the ones working diligently, maybe even going to tutoring, and homework takes them twice as long and somehow they are still at-best mediocre students. 

    These are the kids who face failure even when their work is extraordinary. None of it's fair for a kid to go through, but it's better they do this as children than as adults. 

   Now, I see some obviously worry about their child's success. They think that maybe school is too hard for them, let's place them in an easier setting so they can excel.

    To which, I cringe. 

    Childhood is the best time to learn how to fail and, I'd argue, the worst time to excel. If they excel too much, they take success for granted. If they fail too much, they may shut down. It's a balancing act, isn't it? But, regardless, failing in childhood is merely a part of the journey of personal growth. 

    They are young enough to recover; even if you put them in the most difficult atmosphere and they shut down completely, you can pull them out altogether and re-route. However, what if they are still trying to do their best and still at-best mediocre? Then you fight with them, never remove them from a fight if they want to finish it. 

    Great, now this sounds like a wrestling match. Anyways, these children with Apraxia have an opportunity to discover something at a very young age: 

Failure Happens, It's How You Overcome That Failure That Brings Success.

If you put barriers around a child and prevent them from experiencing failure, you forbid them from success.

You can't experience success without failure.

It's impossible.