Why I Chose To Embrace Failure
From the Inkwell of: Bartholomew J. Worthington III
"How hard can it be?" I thought to myself.
I'd seen all the Instagram photos of various friends of mine paddle-boarding around the inter-coastal.
"Hell, if they can do it, it can't be that difficult," I reasoned with myself.
So I paddled out while my friend tried to instruct me on how to get balanced on the board and stand up.
Well, long story short, paddle boarding is a hell of a lot harder than it looks, and that day, I tasted failure.
That ocean had made me her Bitch.
But, I was grateful for the experience. It seems counter-intuitive doesn't it. For a while, I'd been contemplating why I had felt so unmotivated, even though I was acutely aware of not living up to my potential. Then I came across the most unlikely catalyst for an epiphany: A YouTube video of a 13 year old (no, not Justin Bieber).
Logan LaPlante gave a presentation at TEDx about his experience "Hacking His Education." In his presentation he highlighted why a self-directed approach to his education ended up being the best approach for him. He cited actually being excited about learning how to be "happy" as the greatest takeaway of his journey.
Watching a young man, the same age as my step daughter, it hit me: I was unfulfilled and would always be unfulfilled traveling the "safe" road.
I needed to find a path less traveled, a road of my own.
Now, this wasn't as much of an epiphany as it was a re-epiphany (if there is such a thing.) I knew early on that I wasn't built for the status quo. I had always had a powerful disdain for authority, I was way too opinionated and outspoken.
Maybe I'd gotten it from my father; maybe it was a character trait I'd inherited from my grandfather, a tall, slender man of few words who'd operated his own business for decades.
Either way, all though my education; grade school, high school, even college, I'd questioned the validity of the conventional wisdom everyone so readily accepted. So how had I ended up on this road?
Well, even with the sneaking suspicion that there was more to life, upon graduation, I still followed, grudgingly, the beaten path.
Now looking back on it all, I realized something profound: I failed to truly live for all those years because the fear of failure had been ingrained in me.
Once again, it sounds counter-intuitive, but stay with me. During our early developmental years, our toddler selves only learn by trying...and failing. I don't know exactly when I started walking, but I'm positive I failed many times before I finally succeeded. Same with learning to speak. Learning to ride a bike. Learning to read.
In fact, I had failed at everything I tried for the first time. But then I kept trying. Eventually, I got the hang of something; then I got comfortable; then, if I kept at it long enough, I mastered it.
I reached the realization that one of the worst things that can happen to us as we mature is that we become failure averse. And it actually stunts our ability to achieve real success.
So me, I'm choosing to embrace failure a lot more. Get back in touch with my inner 2 year old. Learn to fail again. Maybe even fail spectacularly. This journey will present me with many opportunities to do just that. But, for the first time in a long time, I feel fulfilled. I no longer fear failure. In fact, I now welcome it. It can only make me better.
And the next time I have the opportunity to paddle board, I'm going to make that ocean MY Bitch.