Failure Is Not a Big Deal

failure, cartwheel, success, cheerleading, color guardAre you kidding me? Failure is a huge deal. Immediately, some of my worst failures come to mind:



A Job in the Big Apple

Vaginal Birth

Agent Elimination

I’ll expose these failures to you in hopes that you’ll reciprocate in the comments section below.

I sure loved those white-tasseled boots.

I sure loved those white-tasseled boots.

(1) I want to be a cheerleader SO badly in high school. I make it to the JV level, but I can not get my legs to swing gracefully up and over my upside down body in a move called the cartwheel. When I bonk my head hard enough for a concussion during an attempt, I finally give up. I fail.

BUT I join the color guard instead. Become captain by junior year and enter color guard contests. Oh yes, I “Present, ARMS” all over the county and state. I end up dating the hot son of our coach. Success!

lifeguard, pool

The happy lifeguard.

(2) My brother has all kinds of swim awards: 1st in freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke. Year after year, beginning ages 7 and 8, respectively, my little brother beats me, and everyone, in the swimming lane. But I practice, and practice, and improve. At 16, I swim the first heat for our club’s team in the breaststroke. We need this win! I race hard and come in … second. Failure.

But after I quit the team in tears, the pool manager offers me a job as a lifeguard. I wear a cute one-piece white swimsuit that shows off my sitting-up-on-the-stand tan to great advantage. I work with three gorgeous 19-year-old dudes and bring home my first paycheck. Success!

(3) A few failures later, I achieve a Master’s in English Literature. I can write a 120-page thesis on Black American Expatriate Writers of the 20th Century, but I can’t get a job in New York City no matter how much I beg. I even get rejected for secretarial positions (‘Not Skilled Enough”). Total Failure.

So I apply to a small publishing company in the boondocks of New Jersey. I leap from copy editor to medical editor to managing editor of a large medical journal in under three years. Success!

(4) Okay, you’re all waiting for this one. Vaginal birth? Oh yeah. I’m pregnant with high expectations of welcoming my first child un-sedated and gloriously enlightened by surviving a hard labor and the feel of my baby’s head, chest, legs and feet emerging from me while I scream in exquisite painful delight. Wait, the baby wants to leave her warm world feet first? She’s in distress? I’m in distress? Emergency C-section. I’ve failed!baby, caesarean birth, vaginal birth

Until the baby is cuddled in my arms – alive, brilliant, and beautifully formed since she didn’t have to squeeze through a tiny tunnel. Success!

So many failures, so little space here, so I’ll come to my last one, and the one that first came to mind when I read my blogging friend Mike’s fascinating, funny post ( where he explains:

“The most important thing life has taught me is that failure is not a big deal. I’ve spent much of my adult life screaming this fact from the rooftops. I’ve seen way too many people more talented than I give up on their dreams way too soon because the idea of failing is just way too terrifying.” Mike Allegra

Many of us passionately, and at times painfully, sweat through hours of daily isolation to write our perfect story. Then we send it out for affirmation. The rejections trickle in – one, five, twenty. But each rejection equals success. Not just in writing, but in so many parts of our life.

(5) For instance, an agent falls in love with my book. I become her client for a short while; she encourages me, praises my work, until suddenly she “moves on to a different genre” and drops me. Failure.

The Right Wrong Man, Pamela S. WightUntil I pick myself up (and my pen), study, write, attend workshops, write, teach classes, write more, and create Near.Perfect.Press. I self-publish. Readers find my books. Readers buy my books. Readers love my books. Success!

Hmm, I can’t wait to see what I fail at next…






41 thoughts on “Failure Is Not a Big Deal

  1. To put it simply, I would say that you have to have the failures in order to recognise and appreciate the successes! How can you know what is good if you haven’t experienced what is bad? I would list my failures here, but hey, I don’t want to take the focus off of you! 🙂


  2. Hey there dearest, beautiful Pam……you are definitely NOT a failure at writing awesome books. I read your book as you know, The Right Wrong Man, and love, love, love it! As for all the other failures you mentioned, you have to take the good with the bad…..therefore, for all of your failures, you certainly got some good out of them…even if you didn’t realize it at the time. Please let me know when you next awesome book is available in paperback since I don’t have an e-reader.Your color guard picture is awesome….see other familiar faces there….and what a knockout you were in that white bathing suit…..see the good in the bad my friend! And you are definitely NOT a failure in writing your awesome blog……you go girl…..keep up the great work. I love reading all that you write…you are so very very talented….so take care my friend. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Thinking of you and sending lots of love and prayers your way dearest old friend!!!


    • Okay, you have me beaming. Thanks Bev. And if I get enough requests to make Twin Desires into a softback instead of just an e-book, I’ll go for it! Sending a warm (or should it be a COOL?) summer hug back to you.


  3. I was captain of my H.S. color guard! 🙂 I am reminded of “Where God closes a door, he opens a window.” Each failure can lead to a better ‘window.’


  4. Pam, those are some great photos! Hard to believe you ever failed at anything. 🙂 I don’t want to put a cloud over your sun, but failure is certainly painful when you are IN it…and you can’t recognize “success” until much later when you have some perspective. The world is lucky your “failures” didn’t stop you!


    • You bring up a good point. When we’re in the middle of the failure, we’re miserable. I guess as we get older, we might have more realization that we’ll ‘get through it’ and find it brighter, lighter, better, on the other side.


  5. Woke up to a beautiful morning and read your blog. I certainly have had failures in my life but many more positive and wonderful experiences. Gives me something to think about as I start my day. My mother would always tell me that every cloud has a silver lining.


    • And I’ve always dreamed about floating in that silver-lined cloud.
      Karen, you are one of the women I most admire in the successes you’ve created out of some big stumbling blocks. You’re amazing.


  6. You are a s.c.r.e.a.m. and I love this post. You just proved failure makes us try harder and the successes may be a little different from what we assumed, but they’re also better too. 🙂 Anyway, failure is not failure, it’s what you make of it.


  7. Pamela –

    Thanks for the stories. As for the “failures,” just experiences or lessons to help us to the next step. Anyway, you exude success. “Near Perfect,” if you will. That’s what I say.


  8. Love your post! You add your Successes after your “failures” which is very cool! HEY…and guess what! I was in color guard too for first three years in high school. Would have been co-captain my senior year had I stayed in, but I thought I needed a “life” and more freedom..HA! Looking back I wish I had stayed in band because our band ROCKED! We won 90% of all competitions including Grand Champions in Washington DC. Thanks for sharing sweets! PPIEW (Practically Perfect In Every Way) 🙂


  9. I don’t know if this posted or not. I posted it and had to login to WordPress. If it’s a duplicate, please delete it.

    Great post! I could never do a cartwheel, either. Or hoola hoop. I went back to school in 2004 to get a four-year degree. I already had an A.S.. While in college I worked part-time.

    When I finished college, I set out to get an IT job because that’s what I did from the mid 90’s to 2011. I got laid off in 2011 and couldn’t get back into IT.

    While in college, I told myself if I don’t find something in a year, I was going to go back to school for paralegal. Nearly a year after finishing school, I had interviewed for one company three times for an IT job. I thought, “This is it!” But, I never heard from them. Bummer. Also, the facility where I worked was closing in a few months.

    A couple of months later, I interviewed for another job, which paid $20k more than that other one I’d interviewed for. Three weeks later, I hadn’t heard from them, so I started college for paralegal. I went to classes for two weeks and applied for an internship for the state Attorney General’s Office. Later, I got an offer with the Attorney General’s office for an internship because of my major and IT skills. I had to get fingerprinted first and I couldn’t start for a month because the person that would mentor me was involved in a trial. I worried that maybe they would change their mind.

    A day or two later, the last job I interviewed for offered me a job, but I had to be fingerprinted (again) and get a physical. My current job ended and I applied for unemployment. Later, I’d received my first unemployment check and my fingerprints results came back. I informed the AG’s Office that I could not do the internship and started the new job the following week. If that first job I really wanted (at the time) had offered me the job.

    I would never have interviewed for the job I accepted (and still have 8+ years later), which paid much more and was a better company all around.

    This is longer than I thought it would be. Sorry. 🙂


    • Cartwheels must be for the double jointed, or at least people a lot more coordinated than you and me!! Thank you for including your comment here, and the long road to achieving exactly what you wanted. I like the long-meandering way of it, because sometimes that’s what the failure feels like – it goes on and on until suddenly the RIGHT thing happens to lead us to success. Then we realize, “oh, that’s why it took so long to get there!”


  10. I am honored to be mentioned here, Pam. Thank you.

    I think you pointed out something that I never considered before: some failures are necessary to acquire success. When I was fired from my last job, I was devastated but that so-called failure led directly to a much better job — one I would not have found had I not been ousted.

    I’ve always believed that there is a Master Plan for all of us. Perhaps our failures are designed to nudge us in the right direction.


  11. What a wonderful post, if there were no failure they would be no success. One door closes another opens. Many years ago I didn’t get into summer writing class, I had failed miserable , instead I visited my mom and dad in Germany and had a wonderful time with my dad. It was the last time I saw my dad alive.


  12. Great post, Pam! And you’ve encouraged me to consider self-publishing. I landed an agent (success!) but she hasn’t sold my novel (failure). Maybe self-publishing will be a success — or not. It will lead to something, that’s for sure.

    Mike A.’s comment above is wise (no surprise!): We’re all being nudged.

    Fresh out of art school, I wanted desperately to get a job as an artist at Hallmark Cards. They passed on me, but within two months, I had a great job at a great animation studio in Chicago. A much better fit, and I’m so grateful Hallmark hired somebody else.


    • Hallmark’s huge loss…your gain!
      I encourage you to at least consider self-publishing. Definitely spend a long time reading your options about it, because there’s the good and the bad, but I’m convinced the good outweighs the bad. Besides, we don’t want to wait to read your novel – we want it out there NOW.
      P.S. I’m nudging…


  13. This blog post is a success, Pam. Another one! I am thinking about how, as an adult, I tried to learn to ice skate (to at least skate with my daughter). However, could not EVER learn to skate backwards. Utter failure. What was the success? My daughter got to do something that only she could do in the family. We all got to watch and cheer her on. Those were some good years. I love how failures can become successes.


    • Well, you are a total success as a mom, allowing your daughter to shine on the frozen ice while you stood aside. I, on the other hand, still haven’t figured out how to ice skate FORWARDS, besides backwards! :-0 Another total failure on my part, and I swear, I cannot see any success in that one….!!


  14. And this is such a healthy perspective! I’ve wondered now and again who, in our formative years, indicated to us our value was predicated on our success rate. I figure I have succeeded by virtue of having attempted! The outcome is another story. Love your blog!


    • Thank you for enjoying my words – means the world to me. And good point about our ‘value’ depending on our success. I think it’s in our culture, don’t you? Success is a good thing, as long as we value what’s really worthwhile in our ‘success.’


  15. I love how each failure became a success! This post really puts the “showing” into the expression about when God closes a door . . . . I have had a lot of failures, but my worst failures have been when I haven’t tried.


  16. Hi Pam,
    I’m so glad I signed up to receive your blog. Your post is very timely. Two weeks ago I gave a speech in front of sixty people at my mother’s celebration of life service. I knew if I didn’t t get up to give my speech I would have been hard on myself for not trying, and I would have failed. I gave it my best shot, and success I made it through. I went up a second time to add a couple of more thoughts and comments and the second time was a breeze.
    Often we don’t know what the outcome will be, but we never stop learning from our failures or our success.


    • I’m so glad you’re following my blog now too. SO good to hear from you, but I’m very sorry to hear that your mom is gone. You’re right, you would never forgive yourself if you didn’t speak up at the service. And in some way, she knows that you did it – for her. Success!


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