We shouldn’t be scared to let children lose – it’s part of life

I was recently asked a question in a job interview that went a little bit like this: “How can you demonstrate that you’ll be committed and dedicated to this role, despite the sometimes long and unsociable hours?” There was only one thing that came to my mind. The same thing that, I’m sure, has influenced a huge part of the way I am today. Dancing.

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Photo: gfpeck/ Flickr.

It may sound meaningless to someone on the outside looking in that a hobby like that could have any impact on anything other than my ability to perform, but it’s taught me so much more than just that.

It’s made me dedicated because of the infinite rehearsals. Determined because of the endless desire to improve. Resilient because of the injuries I’ve had to overcome. Confident because of the pressure of an audience watching your every move. The list goes on.

When I was younger, I used to audition for pantomimes every year. Out of all the times I went along – jazz shoes in hand, hair pulled tightly together on the top of my head – how many times do you think I was successful?

None.

Year after year, I would be too short, too curvy, have the wrong hair colour, or simply not be good enough to be chosen. When I left school, I even attempted a career in the arts and dreamed of gaining a place at a top dance school. I didn’t get in.

Of course, rejection hurts at any age, and at any stage in life, but you come to accept it after a while. You grow a thicker skin, and you learn that, as cliché as it may be, sometimes you don’t get what you want, but what you need.

Because of all of this, my life didn’t fall apart when I recently fell short of getting my dream job. I didn’t lose all my confidence and shrivel up, because I know that it’s all good experience, and it’s only a matter of time before the next wonderful opportunity comes along. Rejection, or losing, doesn’t have to be about being defeated – it can equally be about learning valuable lessons.

When I hear about ‘winning’ being banned in schools nowadays so that ‘nobody feels left out’ or has their feelings hurt, I think it’s disgusting. I think it’s doing irreparable damage to young people, leading them to grow up unable to cope with setbacks, and furious when they don’t win. It’s providing them with an armour of cotton wool that they just won’t have in the real world. How on earth will they survive?

I was always on the losing team at sports day, and I promise you it never did me any harm!

Now, I’m not saying that we should crush their dreams and swap praise for reality boot camps, but we at least need to prepare them for what’s out there; if not, we’ll just be creating a generation full of mental and emotional fragility.

Don’t get me wrong, my life has been far from a series of rejections – I’ve been given countless incredible opportunities and have achieved far more than I’ve ever lost. But sometimes, those rejections and losses define you more than your accomplishments do; or at least the way you handle them does.

In this sense, you’re given two choices; you can let those rejections hold you back, or you can let them drive you on forward. The choice is yours!


Featured image: gfpeck/ Flickr.

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