3 Reasons Why Failing Is An Option

burned dumpster
Reading Time: 7 minutes

“We are all failures. At least the best of us are.” JM Barrie, author of “Peter Pan.”

At twenty-nine, I was working a dead-end job leasing apartments in New York City.

I’ll admit there were plenty of opportunities for advancement within the company that I worked for. But I ignored them all. Instead, I made a conscious choice to stifle my growth out of fear. I didn’t want to get too comfortable leasing apartments in New York City. I didn’t think this was my purpose in life.

Whereas others would’ve killed for my job, I didn’t care. As far as I was concerned, Manhattan real estate was killing my creative life. I needed to wiggle myself out of the real estate quicksand before it swallowed me whole.

So, I did what any bat-shit crazy person would do: I quit my job, abandoned my apartment in Brooklyn and moved to my mother’s condo in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, where I lived rent-free no longer a slave to “the man.”

(Cue the most spectacular fail of my life!)

A DESPERATE ATTEMPT FOR SUCCESS

I moved to the Dominican Republic to remove myself from the distractions in my life. I vowed to complete the extraordinary task of writing 90,000 words in the span of six months.

I was to write a novel, by all intents and purposes, that no one besides my mother would sponsor while I was living in the tropics.

But five months into my “radical sabbatical,” things took a drastic turn. I had produced merely 30,000 words — roughly one hundred pages of fiction — and it was all donkey crap.

I “gave birth,” as a tortured artist would say, to the dreaded first draft: a baby with all sorts of post-partum complications.

What I had wanted was a healthy baby. Instead, what I got was “Rosemary’s baby.” 

It hadn’t dawned on me (as I spiraled into a deep and dark depression), that I was being too hard on myself. I didn’t know back then that a first draft was supposed to be donkey crap. That I was supposed to nurse it to good health.

Oh where can my baby be? You might be wondering that highly-anticipated debut novel of mine that a snazzy film studio like Warner Brothers was bound to option and adapt into a movie?

Well, since then, it’s been collecting internet dust in my Google Drive. The same drive that’s become a dumpster truck for my wildest hopes and dreams.

THE UNNECESSARY WEIGHT OF PURPOSE

Google defines purpose as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”

When you sit down to ponder your life’s purpose over a tub of salted caramel ice cream, you might have a difficult time figuring out exactly what that is. Not to mention, freaking the f*ck out when you can’t come up with a reason for your own existence!

If I could travel back in time and find the ancient fuckers who sat down to ponder the meaning of their existence, I would fart directly in their mouths.

Because let’s not overcomplicate things:

There’s no greater purpose than to create delightful experiences for yourselves and those around you.

Do you agree?

THE SUBJECTIVE NATURE OF PURPOSE

What is “purpose?”

Does it mean the same to person A as it does to person B?

Probably not.

Person A might tell you that their raison d’être is to raise a family, whereas person B might say that it’s to raise cows.

Why the stark difference in purpose?

Why is someone an MMA fighter and someone else a firefighter? Do their professional drives stem from a sense of purpose that’s clearly defined or, dare I say, complete?

What if the MMA fighter’s true purpose is to be an agronomist for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but he doesn’t know it yet?

Or what if the firefighter is meant to be the ordained creature who will one day cure cancer?

The multiple avenues of purpose are like the intricate freeway junctions on aerial shots. The sight of them is stressful and panic-inducing and yet we are expected to navigate these twisting roads with aplomb and minimal casualties.

Those who wish for our success (ie. parents, friends, mentors, etc.) urge us to identify our purposes in life early on — the reasons as to why we exist — so that we may thrive until the day we croak.

But don’t worry, they tell us. If we’re ever lost in our ways, our “sense of purpose” is like a compass pointing at our true north — the place we’re meant to be — guiding us towards the right path like a beacon of light.

I, for one, have noticed that wherever there’s light, there are shadows. And it’s in these dark places where we tend to linger when things aren’t quite going as we expected them to.

In my case, the weight of purpose throughout most of my twenties and early thirties was driving me into the ground. It kept reminding me that time was ticking. I wasn’t getting any younger. Therefore, what was I doing with my life not writing the next great American-Dominican novel?

But purpose — if you believe in one greater than existing to make your life and the lives of those around you as pleasant as can be — isn’t something that you can simply reach for and grab by the balls (or non-binary private parts.)

For the longest time, I compared my lack of success to those of my peers who were accomplishing all kinds of remarkable things.

I was happy for them/not happy for them: I wanted my piece of the pie, too.

Except that my fear of failure was the heavy anchor I had thrown overboard.

Everyone else was setting out to sea despite the savage waters ahead, whereas I felt safer watching from a distance as the ships disappeared on the horizon.

lonely boat on the sea horizon at dusk

RAISING THE ANCHOR

I’m a fan of the band “Garbage,” led by vocalist Shirley Manson. There’s a line in one of their songs, “Man on a Wire,” from the album, “Not Your Kind of People.”

It goes like this:

I was a green-eyed monster
Could you tell I was afraid?
I sat myself down

And shot my fear in the face

Nowadays, whenever I fear something (whether rational or irrational), I summon my innermost Shirley Manson.

I imagine that I’m a green-eyed monster — tall, hairy, foaming at the mouth — and that it is I who inspires fear in others with my badassery.

I literally sit myself down, close my eyes, and “shoot my fear in the face.”

Because it’s not a dead-end job that kills your creative life. It’s your fear of starting over, of challenging yourself, of grabbing life by the you-know-what that does it.

Fear makes you exit the turnpike prematurely when you should’ve gone farther along the freeway of Life.

Fear is the real dumpster truck of your wildest dreams. And you might ask yourself, why go rummaging for garbage when I’ve got a freezer full of salted caramel ice cream?

I’ll tell you, dear reader:

Because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Make it your treasure.

Take a dive in your dumpster truck, light a match and set it on fire.   

THREE REASONS WHY FAILING IS AN OPTION

1. It can help you find the right path.

At the onset of my pre-midlife crisis (when I packed my bags and headed to the tropics like I was frickin’ Hemingway), I questioned whether or not writing was the right path for me.

But after that epic fail, do you think I question it now?

There have been countless entrepreneurs, authors, politicians, etc., who could’ve thrown in the towel at any point in their careers.

But they found success through sheer determination and willpower.

Walt Disney. Albert Einstein. JK Rowling. And Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.

At some point in their trajectories towards success, they all failed pretty hard.

On the other hand, failing at a new venture or a life goal could teach you that the path you’re on isn’t in your best interest to follow. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The best way to be sure is to try again. And if you fail, try again.

If you notice that, upon failing so many times, you still wish to pursue your goals, then it’s meant to be. Don’t give up, but also don’t keep doing the same things. Explore alternate avenues to get to where you want to be. Trying different things can yield different (ie. better) results.

2. It can help you build character strengths.

Ever seen the “Captain Marvel” trailer where Brie Larson’s character is constantly getting knocked to the ground, only to rise each time?

Guess what? You can be your own superhero, too!

Failing time and again is beneficial insomuch as it adds another layer of thick skin to your body.

What’s more, failing (as a pattern) can chip away at your fear of failure and open new doors to wonderful opportunities.

3. It challenges your ability to cope with failure.

How you react in the hours, days, months, or years following a massive failure can lead to a “make or break” moment in your life.

How do you cope with depression as a result of failure? Do you consume copious amounts of drugs and alcohol? Or do you go on a sex rampage with strangers? Or is it a combination of these things?

Do you meditate on failure with an open heart? Do you ask yourself what went wrong and how you might be able to bounce back? Do you look to your loved ones for guidance and support?

How are you going to raise the anchor in a way that replenishes your strengths and adds positive value to your life?

The answers to these questions will determine whether you “make it” or “break it.” And by god, I hope that you make it all the way.

BECAUSE FAILING IS PART OF THE PROCESS

At the very least, failing will prove that you did something. That you tried. And that’s okay.

Because you should fail miserably, especially when it can take the weight of purpose off your back.

But if it’s still there, remember:

There’s no greater purpose than to create delightful experiences for yourselves and those around you.

It’s as simple as that.

guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Related Posts