Failing Successfully MAG

January 27, 2009
By Candace Moberly BRONZE, Berea, Kentucky
Candace Moberly BRONZE, Berea, Kentucky
2 articles 0 photos 7 comments

My day in the sun had arrived – my magnum opus would be revealed. I had just delivered a memorized speech that I had labored over for weeks, and I was about to learn how the panel judged my performance. The polite but sparse audience leaned forward in their folding chairs. A hush fell across the room. The drum rolled (in my mind, anyway).

The contest organizer announced the third-place winner. Alas, the name was not mine. Then he read the second-place winner, and once again it was not me. At last, the moment of truth came. ­Either I was about to bask in the warmth of victory or rue the last several months spent preparing. While neither of these came to pass, my heart felt closer to the latter.

Losing is a part of life, and I have dealt with the emotional baggage that travels shotgun with it on more than one occasion. However, it was an indescribably underwhelming feeling to drive 200 miles round trip, get up obscenely early on a freezing Saturday morning, and yet still finish fourth out of four contestants. After Lincoln lost the 1858 Illinois Senate race, he reportedly said, “I felt like the 12-year-old boy who stubbed his toe. I was too big to cry and it hurt too bad to laugh.” Oh yeah, I could relate.

I had spent many hours in front of a computer and in libraries doing research for the Lincoln Bicentennial Speech Contest. As I pored over several biographies, one notion stood out: Lincoln was handed many sound defeats, but he never allowed them to (permanently) hinder his spirit or ambition. While I believe many history lessons can be applied to modern life, I hadn’t considered “the agony of defeat” as a historically valuable learning experience. I never dreamed I could relate to Lincoln! A president no less, and the greatest at that. I thought “failing ­successfully” was a very appropriate topic, given the many letdowns Lincoln experienced, and so this became the title of my speech.

After not placing in the first year of the speech contest, I really wanted to compete again. Lincoln had been the epitome of persistence, so I was not going to give up on a contest about a historic individual who did not give up! I reworked my speech for the following year, and while I did not come in last, again I did not place. Some days you’re the dog, and some days you’re the hydrant, and this was ­definitely a hydrant day that brought me down for a while.

I couldn’t accept the fact that I had failed twice in something that I had worked so hard on, until I contemplated the individual whom I’d spent so much time learning about. Never mind the lost prize money (ouch, major) and praise (ouch, minor) – I had learned, really learned, about a great man who had experienced failure and disappointment, and had many chances to give up. We remember Lincoln because he didn’t take this route; he didn’t throw lavish pity-parties, and he persevered to ­become, according to many, the greatest American president.

While I did not earn monetary awards as a result of this contest, I did gain a new perspective. Through learning about Lincoln, I discovered that I can fail successfully, and that it is possible to glean applicable wisdom from the lives of those who have come before us. Now, whenever I’m faced with a setback, I remember what Lincoln said after his unsuccessful 1854 Senate race: “The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself, ‘It’s a slip and not a fall.’”



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This article has 74 comments.


sggfsgfss said...
on Nov. 23 2010 at 8:22 am
lemme holla

Katy Marie said...
on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:56 pm
LOL wow kay good writting man

dez ali said...
on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:54 pm

:P

lol

not much happinin here....wbu? :p

 


Katy Marie said...
on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:53 pm

Lol oh Des. Yes she is very good. The only thing she can improve on is grammer lol

anyway whats up?


dez ali said...
on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:52 pm

GREAT post!!!

lol :D


Katy Marie said...
on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:50 pm

I agree. It is VERY good.

Keep up the good work! :0)


on Oct. 22 2010 at 1:07 am
eehearn2011 SILVER, Lake Wales, Florida
5 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."-Dr. Seuss

loved it :)

on Oct. 7 2010 at 10:19 am
mariel_f BRONZE, Emerson, New Jersey
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"so we beat on, boats against the current borne back ceaselessly into the past"

great essay. i love the connection to lincoln! my college essay is on a similar topic.

AppleSnowman said...
on Oct. 1 2010 at 9:15 am
I thought that this essay was a really well done essay. Your voice was just right in it. I also like the description you had in the beggining of how you were feeling wile waiting for them to call the first place winner. I just think you did a very good job.

on Aug. 14 2010 at 10:55 am
Candace Moberly BRONZE, Berea, Kentucky
2 articles 0 photos 7 comments
I am in my second year at Eastern Kentucky University. I'm absolutely loving it!

friend-less said...
on Aug. 12 2010 at 3:38 pm
friend-less, Natick, Massachusetts
0 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

some days your the dog. some days your the hydrant. hahahaha. great article.

Ash.x BRONZE said...
on Aug. 12 2010 at 7:40 am
Ash.x BRONZE, Swansea,Wales, Other
1 article 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."

Great article :) 

nikygal7 said...
on Aug. 11 2010 at 9:03 pm
this article was awesome!! your writing is so unique and fast paced. loved it :) the writing style, the content, everything. where are you in college now?

dtheripper said...
on May. 24 2010 at 6:21 pm
i really liked reading this essay! :)

on Apr. 24 2010 at 11:44 pm
AlexandraVasari PLATINUM, Fort Stewart, Georgia
28 articles 4 photos 174 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing songs is super intimate. It's a bit like getting naked"~ Gwen Stefani

This was very good, I'm preparing a speech/presentation about Abraham Lincoln right now so it was inspiring to read about what you've done, and the lessons you've learned. Thanks :)

Sarbear GOLD said...
on Apr. 24 2010 at 10:22 pm
Sarbear GOLD, Milan, Ohio
10 articles 4 photos 489 comments

Favorite Quote:
--Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away from them and you have their shoes.
--When life gives you lemons, squirt them in people's eyes.

this is amazing.

on Apr. 17 2010 at 10:45 pm

The beginning was so good I almost couldn't bear to read any further.

I think I just might die in jealousy.

Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing (:


Majora SILVER said...
on Mar. 22 2010 at 4:23 pm
Majora SILVER, Eugene, Missouri
5 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life gives meaning to the Universe. And thus the meaning of life is to give meaning to everything.







--Myself

"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."

. --John Wooden

iiiht said...
on Mar. 8 2010 at 11:54 pm
After not placing in the first year of the speech contest, I really wanted to compete again. Lincoln had been the epitome of persistence, so I was not going to give up on a contest about a historic individual who did not give up! I reworked my speech for the following year, and while I did not come in last, again I did not place. Some days you’re the dog, and some days you’re the hydrant, and this was ­definitely a hydrant day that brought me down for a while.
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Davidhoebbel said...
on Jan. 13 2010 at 1:32 pm
This was very good.


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