Strive for experience, not achievements

success-tryFrom: Liyana Rahimi via e-mail

When I was seven, I told my mum I wanted to learn to skate but all she heard was, “I want to participate in skating competitions.”

When I was 11, I told her I wanted to join an essay-writing competition, and she told me to give her a signed copy when I got published.

When I was 14 and told my dad I wanted to learn to shoot with a bow and arrow, he told me it was good that I was aiming to be an Olympian.

With everything I did or wanted to do, my parents expected me to reach the highest level. It made me ask just when had society become so preoccupied with achievements.

Why could I not just try? Did I really have to come back with medals around my neck and trophies in my hand? It was an idea that I wanted to challenge. So I did.

I joined a cooking competition and served the judges chicken wings charred to the bone.

I joined a raft-building competition and got soaked because my raft fell apart within a minute.

I joined debate competitions but then made it to the state level (who knew arguing could win you trophies?)

Abandoning any fear of failure allowed me to discover so many things about the world and myself. For example, I learned that ketchup fixes everything, that there is no such thing as too much duct tape, and that I can talk the hind leg off a donkey.

Liyana Rahimi is an FMT reader.

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