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Failure, Discomfort, and Change: What I Learned From a 4-year-old

My daughter’s school has different views of failure, discomfort, and change/growth than I was taught at the same age. They celebrate change as growth, examine failures objectively, and view discomfort as a part of resilience.

Posted: 18/03/2024

Read Time/Watch Time

5 minutes

Who should read this?

Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

Author(s)

Melanie Barham

Region

Global content

Failure, Discomfort, and Change: What I Learned From a 4-year-old

My daughter’s school has different views of failure, discomfort, and change/growth than I was taught at the same age. They celebrate change as growth, examine failures objectively, and view discomfort as a part of resilience.

I regularly hear, “How do you feel? What is your body telling you when it’s sad/frustrated/mad? How can you make it better? Who can you ask for help? What can you learn from them? How do you feel about your choice?” I’ve learned a lot from preschool, maybe you can too.

Through watching my daughter, I’ve been reminded that change, pain, and suffering are important parts of the human experience. Frustration, pain, and discomfort are manifestations of our body, telling us to pay attention, and that things need to change. Change is the vehicle for growth and a new equilibrium. Failure is a major part of the pursuit of a better equilibrium.

Have you ever balanced a set of scales? The first piece of weight you put on, knocking the scales out of inertia involves a wild swing- failure! Then a few more as you add to the scales. Gradually the sine waves decrease, as smaller and smaller increments are needed to adjust.

Another interesting thing about living with a 4-year-old is that she lives in the open. There is very little hidden from view. As you grow, you not only stop announcing that you have an itchy bum cheek in the checkout line (true story, happened to a, uh, friend and their kid), but you also stop saying, “Ouch, I failed miserably, and I’m sad I didn’t get that new job.” Although hiding these chinks in the armor means we look great on the outside, it can be isolating for the person covering up, and for others who could benefit from hearing some shared experiences. Can we smash the idea that everyone has it all together? I’d challenge you to share one small sucky thing that happened along your journey to any success with someone who needs to hear it this year. You never know who could need it the most.

Perhaps we can get a little bit brave, like 4-year-olds, listening to parts that aren’t great about where we’re at, examining those painful parts carefully for lessons and knowledge, and use change and failure as vehicles to carve a more desirable space for ourselves.

Maybe we can embrace messiness and adversity for the gifts that they are: being flopped face down in the mud is what makes the hot shower afterwards feel so great. Most of all, I hope that you know that you’re not alone, no matter how crappy things might seem. Believing you are the only broken one, sad and alone and the only one to have felt this way: that’s the first thought to change today. We’re in this together, putting our pants on the same way; one leg at a time.

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