Ready, Get set, Go!
I start running. I am really fast. After a few seconds, some people pass by. I am still running. Then some more people pass by. I am still running. Then some of them reach the finish line, and I am still running. Then ALL of them reach the finish line, and believe me, I am still running. It was just a 100 metre race, for God's sake! and by the time I reached the finish line, people had even forgotten than I was part of the race.
I was just a kid back then, so NOTHING could shatter my confidence. I said to myself - 'I didn't fail, my success just got postponed!' I knew I could do better. So I participated in the running race again, next year. And guess what, I did better. There was another girl running alongside me. Obviously, all the others had reached the finish line, but you get the point, right? There was ANOTHER girl! We kept on running. I looked at her, tired and sweaty, and she looked at me - it was like I had found my soulmate! Both of us reached the finish line at the same time. Ladies and Gentlemen, the first ever tie for the last position!
That day I realised that probably, running is not for me. Then I thought, let me try public speaking.
Did you know that an average human being rates the fear of public speaking above death
At the time, I didn't. So I participated in the speech competition next. They gave me a topic and 5 minutes to prepare. Two of my teachers were sitting in front of a table to evaluate. After my preparation time got over, they called me. I went in front of them mustering every ounce of courage I could find. Then, I don't know why, but I did this - Respected Judges, and my dear friends, good morning (with the namaskar hand gesture that usually corresponds to a dance opening). And my teacher, in all her earnestness, blurted out - Are you here for the dance competition? It's happening over there. I was shattered. That day I decided - no more of awkward hand gestures in public speaking; the judges are NOT going to be impressed.
Next, I concentrated on music for a while. Same story there... In fact, my pathetic attempt at singing was the subject of one of my humorous speeches. The audience loved it. Not just that, even when people who had listened to that speech would meet me after months, their first reaction was: Oh, I still remember your singing speech! Let me remind you: Others remember your embarrassments more than you do! Thus ended my music career.
After this, I was still thinking: I got to have some talent, right? Everyone has a talent. So I bought a guitar and started learning to play. This is in fact where I found my true calling. On the eve of my orchestra selection, my guitar sir struck my name off the list. And that's when it hit me - My true talent was at failing competitions. Why didn't I see it before! Let me tell you, it takes a lot of talent to fail at everything you do!
You must now be thinking that I'm a total failure, right? Even I think about it sometimes - how did I survive so much of childhood trauma! But I think I handled it pretty well. I am happy that I got those experiences pretty early on in my life. What it did to my confidence was truly amazing! The more I got rejected, the more comfortable I got with rejections and failures. I knew it was okay to fail; nothing's going to happen if I fail.
Failure is good, as long as it doesn't become a habit
But in my case, I had to go through a lot of failure before I could start winning. Have you seen those kids reality shows where the kids do all the hard work and the parents get free publicity? Those shows where if the kids get rejected, the parents start crying? All this hype around winning and all this negativity around losing - it's bad for our kids. At an age when they need a boost to their confidence, the parents make them feel as if their entire life depends on it. I am a living proof that it's okay to fail - at least you'll get some content for your humorous speeches! So my advice to all those parents and to you all is, Fail often, fail early.
So what are you waiting for:
Go out and shout to the world: I did not fail, my success just got postponed!