Don’t Let Your Failures Define You…Or Do?

Dear Readers,

I apologize for my incredibly long hiatus from this blog! This semester has been a busy one, and an emotionally challenging one. But through it all, I have learned something, and that something is the art of failure.

Every time something does not work out the way I want it to (i.e. a failure), I always resolve that I am above said obstacle. “I don’t deserve this treatment.” “It simply was not meant to be.” “I can’t let this define me.

But what if we did use our failures to help define ourselves?

This past weekend I took an audition for a per-service orchestra that REALLY did not go in my favor. Heck, I didn’t even advance past the first round. Coming off of the high of advancing to the finals of a major orchestra audition earlier this year, I immediately started to worry that something was wrong. “My playing has slipped.” “I am doing something wrong.” “I can’t let this define me…”

To add to the worry, I have a fiance who is also a flutist who currently holds a number of flute jobs with various orchestras out west. This job would have been “perfect” for me to have as I could have had a stable life living out west, and getting to play in an orchestra out that way as well.

After rationalizing my failure at this audition with the help of some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and some Trolli sour gummy worms, I came around to the age old saying “Don’t let your failures define you.”

But then I thought: “What if I did define myself by my failures?”

Certainly there is something to be learned out of every loss! Can you imagine a world where one can only do things right, or everything goes your way? Sure, coming from a world where we all must experience the inevitability of failure, this might seem like a wonderful world. But soon we would have nothing to measure our successes by, and we would not all grow as human beings nor would we grow in our respective fields.

After grieving, which is a necessary part of healing from any failure or loss, look at what you have gained out of this experience.

For me, I push myself very hard in preparing for auditions. I am always learning new things about my playing (new tendencies, developing more musical ideas, knowledge of the orchestral repertoire I never had before). And after this audition, I can honestly say that my orchestral excerpts have never been in a better place!

Sure, if I would have won a position with this particular symphony I would be in a happy place. But I also would have set my flute down for a few days and halted my learning process because I would have “known that I could have.” Instead, I am taking my flute up like never before with more determination than ever. Because I know, that regardless of success or failure, I will learn something. And if I learn something from my failures, you better bet I am going to let that define me!

Also, congratulations to the winners of this audition! You all deserve it, and I wish you all the very best going forward!