My daughter tried out for the Cheerleading Team at school this year. I was proud of her for the courage to try something new. There were only 20 spots available. I made it clear to her that even if all the girls who tried out did well, people were going to be cut.
While I always speak greatness into my children, I am not the type of mom that’s irrational. I would be doing them a disservice if I did not prepare them for the real world. They will be faced with rejection and disappointment. They will have to navigate certain paths alone; I will not always be able to hold their hand through difficult times. Failure is inevitable. Steph Curry makes less than 50% of his three pointer shots, but the point is he. kept. shooting.
We had a discussion about her expectations beforehand. She said that she did not care either way, because she could always try again next year. It was a three day process. She felt super confident the first two days, but the last day was a different story. The next day at school, she received the dreaded news. She said, “Honestly, I was not expecting that. I really didn’t think that I would be one to NOT make the team. I had a little melt down because it caught me off guard.” Immediately, I had to validate her feelings.
I knew she was feeling disappointed and probably even embarrassed. The majority of her friends made the team. I knew she felt like she was not good enough. In that moment, I had to be HER cheerleader.
In sports, the cheerleaders literally improve the morale of the entire team by their positive attitude. Cheerleaders instill hope in the players even when they stop believing in their own ability to win. The football team can be losing and the basketball team can be trash, but the cheerleaders will show up to every game cheering them on no less. We have to remember to do that for our kids.
I made sure that even at eight years old, she understands that her self worth should not be based on what someone else thinks of her or a title that she has. Losing and failure is apart of life. It builds character and makes you work that much harder next time. It also makes you appreciate victory. While making the team would have been great, it does not add to nor take away from who she is as a person.
Of course, I had to throw in the “You are one of the very few students in the Talented and Gifted program. That shows that you stand out from amongst your peers. That in and of itself proves that you are a distinguished student. Try again next year. Be more fierce and make them regret not selecting you sooner. Bring it on!”
I’m not always sure that I’m doing this mommy thing right. I know I can stand to have a lot more patience and should probably retire from being the female version of Major Payne. But, when it comes to building my babies up and speaking affirmations over their lives? Oh, I got that in the bag.
We don’t run from challenges or crumble from defeat. Failure and disappointment does not define you; how you respond to it does. Chin up, shoulders back, and try again.