I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be successful and how I should go about becoming it, and what I’ve realized is that oftentimes success comes from vulnerability. The people who are the most successful are those who are willing to take risks, to try, to make their own paths rather than follow behind others. And this scares me because I hate to be vulnerable. I’m not a risk-taker, never have been (though sometimes I desperately want to be), and failure is a truly terrifying outcome. I’d rather not attempt something than to fall on my face while doing it. But I’m really tired of living with this notion of impossible perfection hanging over my head. Anything you do in life requires practice and work to improve, so it’s totally okay to be awful when you start out. Most people are. Granted, there are a few prodigies out there that are masters before the age of 10, but they are the exception. They rest of us are the norm. We’re stuck with trying and failing over and over again until we’ve learned enough to move to the next level where we will repeat the process. So I have to wonder, why are we so willing to classify others as failures when at first they don’t succeed?
And here lies the heart of my issues with failure. I wish I could say I am the type of person who doesn’t take the opinions of perfect strangers or barely thought about acquaintances so seriously, but I’m not. I care deeply about what others think of me. So if I try something new and am awful, I worry that I’ll be seen as a failure and never given a second chance. Because let’s face it, second chances are hard to come by. But they do exist. And maybe it isn’t those around me that need to be more generous towards my failings, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the one that has to realize that being awful is part of eventually being kind of good at something. I need to learn to cut myself some slack. And maybe if we all were a little less hard on ourselves, we could be a little more supportive of each other as well. How many times did those who are deemed successful try and fail in private before succeeding in public? My bet is on a lot. But they kept trying. So I should embrace the idea of failing because at least it means I’m trying too. I going to leap. Yeah, I might fall, but I might also fly.