This is a positive blog post, don’t be misled by the title.
A word that many of us want to delete from our vocabulary.
Something we try to avoid. Try to blame someone else: Circumstances. Other people. Fashions.
Something that really takes so many of us down.
Who wants to talk about their failures?
I mean… Who really wants to talk about them unless we find a sympathetic ear to help us look for others to blame?
I don’t want to talk about failure either. Talking about it brings on sad feelings.
It soon leads to catastrophizing and feeling gloom and hopelessness.
Not a mood I want to share with anyone. Not even my readers. Not even you.
I said this was going to be a positive post. Keep with me. I’m building up to it.
One of the things I shared with my readers some time ago (thank you for your loyalty, by the way!) is that I joined an art course quite of a sudden. It happened without much pondering in advance, without thinking about the pros and cons, without talking to anybody who might put a word of caution in my ear.
You know how it went (still an ongoing process, there are some more terms to cover).
It’s been a challenge, to say the least. But it’s been a worthy one.
Because I thought I was going to learn only about art but I found I was learning about everything: About life. About myself. About the human condition. About … FAILURE! and how to understand it.
I now understand why I have the impulse to share all my doodles and drawings and moments of inspiration with you. With whoever stops by to read my posts.
Many of my classmates are talented people. Some of them are happy to share their work online. Mostly on social media. Many just for friends and family.
Some of them, though, feel cautious that they haven’t got their work perfected enough. That anybody could have a negative opinion of their work if they share it before it’s “right”. So they rather not share it with anybody. Not online. Not yet.
I think they are scared of failing.
They think they should have some accreditation (some official paper?) before they share their imperfect work with the world.
I understand how they feel. I used to feel like that way once, years ago.
Worried that people would think my work wasn’t good enough. Shy. Nervous about what they’d think.
Until I chose to dip my feet in the water. Take some chances. See what would happen.
Be brave and stop hiding from people. Let them think whatever they choose to think.
Let them care about the details, and have opinions or criticise me if they like.
I decide whether I listen or not to their opinions, though. Whether they reflect my need to improve or merely their taste.
I haven’t yet ‘succeeded’ on a public way.
My success is more personal than that.
I’ve learned (from life, although my art course reinforced this) that failure doesn’t exist.
Every failed attempt at doing something can help us build a better project in the future.
Ideas that seemed random on the early days of class have taken hold and have evolved into projects that may one day become a reality (A commissioned sculpture in a public park? Why not? Why dismiss my ideas before they have the chance to happen?)
I empathise with this energizing perspective of failure:
Some of the most boring footage I took became a short video clip I now love.
Some of the dull pictures I took helped me learn what I should do different next time.
Some of my efforts in starting a photography business or a career in health and social care haven’t yet given fruit. But they have given me a myriad topics I can use in future. I’m familiar with experiences many people wouldn’t choose voluntarily. I did. I know more than before. And nobody can take that knowledge away from me or from my future art, my future photographs, my future connections in all areas of life.
So, to those (classmates or not) who are still pondering with the fear of failure I’d tell them it is in your mind. It doesn’t exist.
A website with few visitors is not a failure.
A portfolio of work in progress is not a failure.
A change of plans or a change of strategy or a change of timing is not a failure.
Giving up on your dreams (whatever they are: art, business, learning, new jobs, new friends) just because someone may have a negative opinion is.
Keep failing and focus on what you can learn from it: It’s better that dwelling on regrets.
In the meantime, I keep sharing.
Not because I think my work is perfect but because I know -even if it is only my personal opinion- it’s worth sharing.
Thanks for reading this.
These are some of my recent ‘failures’ (I call them experimental works). I made notes of what I did and how it didn’t work out so I can try something different next time.