As much as I tell my child that winning doesn’t matter as long as you do your best, deep in my heart I have that sinking feeling that that isn’t even remotely true. Even if you can learn more from losing than winning (true), let’s be honest: It still just feels better to win.
A lot better.
A … LOT.
I mean, I want it to be true that sometimes losing is better. Really, how I want it to be true. But sometimes that feeling of victory is so wonderful that any life lessons learned are pretty much flushed down the toilet. To put it simply, feeling victorious and learning nothing just seems better than losing yet achieving personal growth — no matter what age you are.
“Winning cures all” is a common phrase you’ll hear in professional sports. And as flip as that sounds, it ain’t wrong. Sure, losing can build character and learning from your mistakes can make you a better player, but all of that sort of falls by the wayside to a 8-year-old whose team has just been crushed by a far superior amateur team. At that moment, all learning goes out the door and all your child can think of is, “Well, I’m a loser.”
So how on earth do you explain that sometimes losing is better than winning when a child has just lost something that is VITALLY important to them? And how do you say, “winning isn’t everything,” without sounding like a complete and total donkey?
During my first year in high school, I played for the basketball team (and by “played” I mean “stood on the sidelines and never saw one minute of playing time”) and we lost every game that season.
EVERY. SINGLE. GAME.
No kidding, our record was 0-10. And you know what my big take away was from that season? My big “learning experience”? It was this: Basketball sucks. So I’m not really sure that losing is always the great learning experience every single time. Sometimes it’s just a dumpster fire that you have no choice but to watch burn.
Want another personal losing anecdote? (That was rhetorical; you don’t get to choose.)
Here it is:
I once played the best hockey game of my life. I mean, I killed that ish. I was unstoppable on offense and a beast on defense. I have never played better before or since.
Did we win? Nope.
We struggled big time. And as a great of a memory I have of how well I played that night, the fact that we lost still taints my recollection. Such is the power of a checkmark in the loss column.
I totally get that refrain, “It’s only a game.” It’s a great way to live … if you never have a competitive bone in your body (which is basically nobody). How can you tell a child that cliché when they are doing something they love so much but aren’t succeeding at it? It’s like telling someone who just got dumped, “It’s only love.” Both are equally cruel.
Believe me when I say it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two when it comes to losing. Yes, losing can be a character building moment, but it also can be a soul-sucking experience. And as much as a child can learn from losing, whether it be in sports, school, games, etc., it’s really hard for them to process what that lesson is when they feel so absolutely wrecked.
But hey, that’s why there’s ice cream, right?
Photo credits: Evelyne Photography – www.evelynephotography.com
Evelyne is a professional photographer in The Netherlands. Based in The Hague, she specialises in shooting people and capturing personality. Though she works mostly in the The Hague area, Evelyne travels and shoots all over Holland. Boundaries do not exist between her portrait photography, corporate photography and commercial photography and she just launched her newest project ‘Kids by Eve’.