Ann Farabee: Failure isn’t fun

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2016

Failure? Yes, I know about failure. Number 38 still haunts me. 8th Grade. Cheerleading tryouts. I just knew I was going to be selected! My voice was so LOUD! But, after completing my cheer on stage, I had to sit and wait in torture as I watched other girls with actual talent and ability perform their cheer. It was excruciating for me! The last person finished. The wait began. Finally, the winning numbers were announced. I kept looking down at the number pinned to my shirt to make sure I had not forgotten it, and that they were not mistaken. I did NOT hear my number called out!

I sure was glad I was sitting toward the back of the group of cheer candidates. I quickly jerked the number 38 off my shirt, wadded it up, and threw it – somewhere – just threw it – on my way out of the auditorium. Such a litterbug! Did I mention I was sobbing hysterically?

Whew! This feels good – letting out that frustration finally – after all these years! The truth is that during the week of practice leading up to tryouts, I couldn’t even do the stretches correctly- much less the cheers. But, I was really LOUD! However, the dream was destined to die. I had absolutely no ability – no skills. Failure isn’t fun! And… failure isn’t final – but it sure felt final to me!

Here are some other examples of failure that seem to have turned out just fine:

*Abraham Lincoln failed in business 3 times and failed campaigning 7 times before becoming President of the United States.

*Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard before he created Microsoft.

*Colonel Sanders’ chicken recipe was rejected over 1,000 times before KFC was launched.

Some of my favorite ‘failure’ quotes:

*Thomas Edison – “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

*Michael Jordan – “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” (He was also cut from his high school basketball team. Ouch! That had to hurt!)

*Ralph Waldo Emerson – “The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”

Failure is not the opposite of success- it’s part of success. Failure is an event – not a person. Failure is about having the courage to continue. After failure, learn to begin again – more intelligently.

And…during times that you face failure, remember two of my favorite Bible verses:

Romans 8:28 – ALL things, ALL things…. I said ALL things – work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.

When you fail, just remember me- sobbing hysterically. Just kidding. Yes, I failed to become a cheerleader. But, I recovered and made a comeback. Not in cheerleading, but I discovered other talents along the way. Obviously, I never forgot about the cheerleading failure, since I am choosing to write about it half a century later. But… I sure did move on. My best advice? When you face failure, shake the dust off your feet and keep going – forgetting those things that are behind you and moving forward to those things which are ahead. You don’t have to keep living there. Just move on.

Had I not failed at cheerleading tryouts, this column may never have been written to ‘cheer’ you on! Please do not feel obligated to send me any pom-poms. I’m okay. Really…


Ann Farabee, writer, teacher, and speaker, has taught in Kannapolis City Schools and Mooresville Schools. Contct her at or visit

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