My middle child has put herself out there this year. Instead of staying in the background with her nose in a book, she has tried a few new things – even when those things put her slightly outside of her comfort zone. I am very proud of her for many reasons. At the same time, my heart aches a bit for her because each of these experiences has been met with disappointment. No matter how many times I tell her that she did a great job – because she did – she still has that look in her eye that says “but I could have done better.” She ran for an office in student council, and was successfully nominated in her class, but lost the election. She tried out for the spell bowl team, and made it, but was the only kid on her team that didn’t get a perfect or near-perfect (minus one) score.
I get it. When I was in 5th or 6th grade I won my school’s spelling bee and went on to the county spelling bee. I was in the final group of 10 kids when I misspelled the word glazier. I’ll never forget my thought process as the word was presented to me nor how I felt when I was knocked out. Far from earth shattering? Yes. But when you are that age and you tend to internalize feelings anyway, it still makes for a bad feeling deep inside for a while. And my daughter is the queen of internalizing her true feelings.
So I continue to tell her that she did an excellent job and that I’m so proud of all the work she’s done. And while I truly believe you have just as much – or maybe more – to learn from life’s disappointments. I still wish she wasn’t disappointed. I wish she could have the feeling of a rousing success under her belt.