Everyone Thought I was a Failure

Since I was five years old, I've been hungry to prove people wrong.

When I was five, my parents made the decision to put me in pre-k instead of kindergarten. I was painfully shy. So shy that at my entrance exam for public school, I barely spoke. Thus, my parents' decision. They thought that if I had a year to mature, it would be better for my educational career.

That, of course, was their theory, and 100% understandable. However, they did not expect that for the next twelve years (and more), I'd be asked how I failed kindergarten. Even though everyone who knew me knew I didn't fail, it didn't make a difference. I was treated differently.
I was treated like I was stupid for twelve years.
Every school year, I would dread the get to know you games when my classmates would find out I was older. I knew it would begin, the, "how did you fail?" questions would start.

But, you know what?

All of those failure questions fueled my fire. I was not going to be mediocre. I was going to be the best at everything I did. I got killer grades in school (didn't stop the failure questions though). I graduated at the top of my undergrad and graduate class. In my career, I read industry books like Dorie Clark's Reinventing You, Robert Cialdini's Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, and Ryan Holiday's Growth Hacker Marketing to keep at the top of my game. I listen to industry podcasts non-stop, like Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income, Julie Solomon's The Influencer, and Charlene Johnson's Build Your Tribe. In short, I stay on top of my industry 24/7.
While growing up knowing what people were saying was hard, it gave me a fire that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
The perception of failure is something I still struggle with. I'm thirty (something) and still dread the question, "when did you graduate high school?" 90% of the time, they run the math on my age and ask why. I still haven't grown out of being overly hard on myself when I make a mistake.

But, that's okay.

Failure is a part of my story, or at least, the perception of failure. It made me who I am today. While I still dread anyone asking me what year I graduated, I wouldn't change it. Proving people wrong since I was five gave me a fire nothing else would have.

Comments

Nice article, thank you for the sharing
Thank you. It was certainly hard to write something so personal!
Unknown said…
I was held back in Second grade and always got the "How could anyone fail second grade?!" question. It really sucked. My birthday is September 1st, so I was a bit too young to be starting kindergarten, but a bit too old to be in the year after I started. Turns out, once my twin sister and I got to second grade she didn't do so well. My parents decided to have us both held back because it would be kind of weird to have one twin in second grade and the other in third. I was upset about that decision back then, but now I completely agree that it was the right thing to do.
Thanks for sharing this story. Your parents had a hard decision. My son was born September 4, so he, too, is in the position where I either fight for him to make the Sept 1 deadline and be younger than everyone, or have him start kindergarten the next year. We're waiting until the next year.

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