Failure. We as individuals are conditioned to think that failure is to be avoided at all costs. I mean, no one wants to fail, right? It is a scary idea failure, but I welcome it. Actually, I do. And I want to fail in the next few years. Yes, you did read that right (go ahead and look again if you don’t want to take my word for it). To be fair, I hope I don’t fail, and it certainly isn’t a goal of mine (I promise I don’t wake up in the morning and think to myself, “I hope today is when I fail”). But in the grand scheme of things, isn’t now the best time of my life to fail (Or any young person’s life)? Perhaps not any young person, I’m mostly aware of the many privileges I have been fortunate enough to have through no actions by myself. But right now, I am responsible for only myself, no one else is dependent on me, financially speaking anyway (emotionally speaking…. Nah, just kidding), and the world is mine to do with what I will. Well, maybe not that last one. But really, what is the worst that can happen (don’t answer that)? But what better time is there in your life to fail?
Why does failure appeal to me? Because I think failure and success are two sides of the same coin. When we are successful, we are constantly looking for the next thing to successful at. We often get caught up in a competitive rat race, comparing ourselves to our friends, our peers, our idols, our mentors, and random strangers on the street. And this constant act of deciding whether or not we measure up can be incredibly draining and debilitating.
Stop for a moment. And think about the last year, the last month, or last week. What is the last thing that you did that you are truly proud of? Think about that thing, action, accomplishment, or milestone. And think about how long you dwelled on your success. How long was it? And why was it that you moved on probably far quicker than you should have?
I graduated a little over 3 weeks ago. Actually, 3 weeks ago to the day if I think about it (yikes!). I graduated from one of the best universities in the world, with a respectable GPA, a couple of fancy awards, employment after graduation, lasting friendships, and more stories and experiences that I could have ever hoped for. And I don’t think that I have given myself a second to think about all of those things. Granted, it is due in part to the fact that I am still very much in denial about the end of four of the best years of my life. But more so because I have already started thinking about the next few things to accomplish. How does one become trained to be an entrepreneur (side note ,I still don’t know how I ended up going where I’m going, I’m just enjoying the ride and the opportunities). What do I want to do with my thesis work? Am I leaving my work unfinished? Should I leave my work unfinished? Am I doing the right thing leaving it now, when everyone who knows my work says that I should continue it? And how on earth am I going to find the time to do all of the work that needs to be done to get this stuff published/displayed while having a full-time job (let’s be real, working in a start-up environment means that I’ll be working over-time all the time, not just full time).
Don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly enjoying my new found freedom, as demonstrated by the 10 books read, trip to the beach, trip to Tanzania, countless coffee and dinner dates, movie splurges, and upcoming pilot’s lesson, zip-lining tour, and paddle-boarding excursion, not the mention my epic road trips to Providence (by way of Montreal) and Las Vegas (possibly by way of Chicago, Wisconsin, Boulder, and Lost Alamos). But these things don’t change the fact that I haven’t taken the time to really reflect upon, well, anything (new goal, blog every day, just to allow my mind to wander).
As per usual, I’ve gotten a little side-tracked, but back to failure. Why do I think it is important? Because failure makes people stronger and more resilient. It challenges people to improve themselves and learn from there mistakes. But perhaps most importantly, it forces people to stop and remember the countless little things (that often aren’t so little) things they are truly grateful for. Friends. Family. Experiences. Moments of feeling alive. And successes.
Actually, coming to the end of this, I think I know the real reason why I value failure. If you fail, that means you have tried. And that might be the epitome of being alive. Perhaps even the meaning of life (not 42). If you failed, that means you took a risk. You took a chance. You followed a hunch or a whim. You decided that the status quo wasn’t enough.
The reddit, tl;dr version: Now is the time to fail. Success and failure are two sides of the same coin (duh). Take the time to remember how awesome you are. Failure means that you tried. Trying is living.
I hope I never stop trying, and I hope you don’t either.