Over the weekend I had a poetry performance that went horribly. I performed two poems, but the first one did not engage the crowd. I stared at a room of blank faces that I basically had to prompt to applaud when I was finished. I wanted to sit back down and disappear, but the person who invited me told me to do another poem. She helped me live through it long enough to redeem myself, but BRUTAL was an understatement.
As I walked back to my seat, no one said a word. I had to sit with my thoughts and unpack what went wrong. I got myself a glass of wine, and the night went on. I didn’t die. Finally, a few inklings of encouragement and acknowledgement came later in the evening. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but life goes on and you learn for next time.
Life goes on and you learn for next time.
Confession: For every step forward over the past year, there’s been a moment of insecurity, uncertainty, or outright failure. Before performances, workshops, or blogging, I constantly have internal battles over the value of my work. I fear failure and knowing this, I’ve been actively facing things that scare me. In little ways though, life has been popping my perfection bubble to show me that I can live, learn from, and grow through perceived “failure.”
I can live, learn from, and grow through perceived “failure.”
I hesitate to use the word “failure” because through experience, we learn how to make things better for next time. That’s all “failure” really is: falling forward. We’ve all heard the quotes, books and podcasts about embracing failure. “You will experience many defeats, but never let yourself be defeated.” These are all true, but when it comes down to YOU, how exactly do you embrace or navigate these imperfect moments?
Unpack. Let me be clear, I’m not an expert in failure. In fact, I’ve feared failure as long as I can remember. For my This is Us fans, I was like Randall in that I rarely participated in anything where success wasn’t guaranteed. I had to unpack that (an ongoing process). For me, (and probably Randall too) there’s a need to control EVERYTHING to ensure life goes according to plan. My fear of failure is really a fear of facing the unplanned and unforeseen parts of life.
Shift your thinking. I’ve made enough personal growth to know that I can’t control or prepare for everything (even though I still mentally try out of habit). I’m just now learning, that I WILL LIVE. Life doesn’t stop when things go awry, and the worst parts of these moments are usually in my anxious little brain. It’s never as bad as it seems in my head. Sometimes I have to talk to myself out loud to really shut my thoughts down.
Keep important people close. If my self-talk wasn’t enough, my father came over last night to tell me, it’s going to be okay (mind you, he knew nothing of the performance). Referring to life in general, he wanted me to know that everything is going to work out. I ultimately know this, but having him confirm it gave me another layer of peace. I want to pass that on to you.
I don’t know what unplanned events are happening in your life, but I do know, that you will live through it and it’s going to be okay in the end.
You will live through it and it’s going to be okay in the end.