Failure is scary for sure. But do you know what’s even scarier to me? Wasting precious time succeeding at things that don’t matter at all… That’s just terrifying.
It gives us the illusion that we’re getting ahead in life, when in fact, being super successful at the things we don’t care about is pretty much as good as not succeeding at all. So I think we might as well take a chance with doing the things we do actually care about. And if we don’t ever “succeed” at those things, if we do somehow “fail,” at least we can say with dignity that we got that bit closer to making a positive difference towards a worthy cause. One that we care deeply about.
“I’m not afraid of failure, I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter…”
Today I’m somewhat glad I was a failure at school. Because, who knows, getting good grades consistently might have led me to think that I just had to become a doctor or a lawyer of some sort. I might have thought that I needed to fit in with what society or my parents had expected of me with my good grades, without even thinking for myself if that’s actually what makes me happy.
“Become a musician you say?! With your straight As?? What a waste of your intellect!! And oh please, it’s not like you play as well as that pianist!!”
And then I would listen and go on to study medicine perhaps. Then everyone would think I had it good in life when I finally become a doctor – wealth, status and all. I would have been a successful person in the eyes of the public. Except that I wouldn’t actually care for the work that I do. I would feel all empty on the inside. And thus, the illusion…
What’s worse is that I might think, “I cannot let all those years of studying go to waste…”
Being such a failure in school (and as a flutist) did one important thing for me. It gave me the “permission” I needed to explore and experiment with new stuff. To develop that childlike curiosity about life all over again. To discover what actually makes me tick, what lights me up, and what makes me really come alive – the things that actually matter to me.
I could try the silliest of things, even fail at many of them, and it would not matter what people might say or think of me. I do not have to be afraid at all.
After all, I was already naked…
Perhaps this is what people mean when they say that you’ve gotta lose yourself in order to find yourself.