This I Believe

Jeff - Cedar Falls, Iowa
Entered on December 14, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Failing at Life

My mother always tells me that I like to learn things the hard way. I felt that this was a bad thing and I made a conscious effort to prove her wrong; I usually failed. This brought me to the conclusion that I believe in failure. I have failed at many things; however, I have always learned something valuable each time. From such varied things as reading to Iowa All-State tryouts.

Trying out for All-State was quite a learning experience, to put it simply. I started practicing in the late summer and finally stopped in early October. I could not get all the scales down. Second position in thumb position really got me. I dropped out a week before the tryouts. Effectively failing. However, all the time spent on All-State honed my skills at bass, to the point where I dominated the jazz band tryouts that were in November. Failing at one thing helped me excel later on, just like my first grade career.

When I was in kindergarten I achieved quite a lot. I caught onto all of the concepts faster than the other kids and it looked like I would be well prepared for first grade, and reading. After the first couple weeks in first grade I started struggling. I quickly fell behind the other students in reading and spelling. They sent me to a specialist and it was determined that I had some sort of learning disorder, that was inhibiting my ability of learning to read. I succeeded in kindergarten because I was able to memorize what sound went with what letter; I was unable to easily put them into words.

After concluding that I had a learning disorder, my teacher sent me to a brand new program that they had just started offering at my school, it was called Reading Recovery. Most kids were only in the program for three months, I was in it for six. Mainly, because the reading recovery teacher loved working with me, I was so receptive to her teaching. When I graduated from the program I was yet again reading on a higher level than the other kids. I assume that it was because I had so much one on one time with a teacher. After I received that boost of instruction I grew out of the disability and my reading tested into a third grade level.

If I had not failed at reading in the first place I know I would not be reading as well today. Some people have a fear of failing; I have a fear of not failing. Without failure nothing new is achieved.