During my school years, I was an academic, rather than an athlete. I was also not considered artistic, although my sister and father were quite talented. During my school years, failure was not something that I experienced academically. The areas in which I had problems were artistically and athletically.
As far as athletics or sports were concerned, I did not shine at all. And no-one expected me to so I was not given a chance to improve. I did surprise them once. The oval at the school had been infested with some sort of grub. It had to be ploughed up and re-sown, and this happened just before our scheduled annual athletics carnival. To give us some sporting competition, it was decided to have a competition around various sporting skills. The one I remember was netball goal shooting. There was an assumption as to who would be the winners, although it was not clear how they would place – who would win, who come second and so on. I surprised them all, and came in second – it had been assumed that I would “fail”! This was my only placing in any sport activity. So, did I fail at sport? This just not the direction my life was to lead. I was not a failure in life just because I did not excel in sports.
The school I attend was a small (very small) private school, with only 200 students from years 1 through to twelve. This meant that there was a limited number of subjects available. Art was compulsory until the end of year 9. I was ready to drop it as soon as allowed. In year 9, it was a close shave as to whether I would pass or fail. Fortunately, in year 9, there were two components to the subject – painting and Art History. My vague memory is that I managed a paltry 45% in the practical side – a fail! But for the Art History component, I shone. A solid 90% or thereabouts. Adding the two results together, I managed a pass overall. Again, did I fail as an artist, or was it just that I was not a painter? These days I could be considered an artisan, with my knitting – and I have worked in a few other crafts. I was not a failure as an artisan just because painting was not my thing.
Academically I did not fail. I passed all exams, even in the days of external exams for Intermediate (year 10), Leaving (year 11) and Matriculation (year 12). Possibly I “failed” to get high marks, but I gained entrance to University in my chosen course. I did get one low pass during my studies. This just meant I could not continue in that subject – and it was the fill-in subject and did not stop me pursuing my chosen path.
Overall, there have been some low times, but failure can be a learning experience – learning about the direction to take in our lives.