Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Failure Hurts...But It's Okay

It's been just over a week since I got the disappointing news that I wasn't selected to be the next department head of Canada and World Studies at my school.  I have been processing the information since I found out--Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at roughly 5:30pm.  I pondered writing a blog post about the experience, but because it feels so fresh and so personal, I decided against it.  Then I remembered: one of the largest reasons I blog is to reflect on my experiences, so it only makes sense for me to write about my failed attempt to become a department head.

After the tears, the incredible feeling of failure set in.  I began to question my abilities as a teacher; the ways I carved leadership opportunities for myself or acted upon opportunities to show leadership; my reputation at school.  I felt worthless:  maybe I wasn't as great a teacher as I thought and had been led to believe, maybe my leadership skills were undeveloped, maybe I was THAT person, the one nobody wants to work with.

Fortunately, the debrief with my principal helped to put my mind at ease.  It wasn't that I'm horrible that I didn't get the job; the successful candidate was simply better.

The reasons I keep trying.  Photo courtesy Ravens Ridge Photo.
The experience made me realize that I work with some top notch teachers and students.  The number of people who asked how I was, or who shared similar experiences, comforted me.  It's nice to know that people didn't see me as a failure.  One student, who was working on an essay while a colleague shared his experiences with me, said later, "I'm sorry.  I think you're doing a great job".  Cue tears!

The experience also made me consider how to want to role model failure for my daughters.  I want them to take risks, to put themselves out there, to be vulnerable.  I want them to be okay with failing, and realize that there is a difference between failing and being a failure.  I don't want failure to prevent them from going for what they want or to make them question their self-worth. And I can't let failure do the same to me.


  1. WOW! Great job Sarah. I am so impressed with your vulnerability and openness. Thanks for continuing to share your experiences.
    I also want to encourage you with the powerful word "yet"

  2. Sarah, YOU ARE AMAZING! Amazing for all that you do as a teacher, but also for all the ways you define yourself other than being a teacher (blog writer included). Life has a funny way of paving the path for us in ways we least expect. I know your path has greatness paved along.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Sarah. I've failed more times than I would care to count or blog about! You are awesome to put your feelings into words. You are a great role model for your daughters and other teachers too. :)