Monday, April 16, 2012

Who's Afraid of a Little Failure?

failureOy, what a week. I caught a cold. Then developed a 3-day migraine that still has only one foot out the door. And during all this, I had a freelance copywriting gig that had to be finished last night.

Fortunately, I was able to work on the couch, thanks to my netbook, because sitting up in a chair was just way too much effort.

I've been getting some actual, real, not filling the internet with poorly-written content, decent-paying writing work through a couple of website for the past month or so. The first really fun gig I got was for something that I didn't think I had a chance of getting. I read the job posting and thought, "I'll never get that. I've never done that specific type of writing before." But it turns out that they were looking for a sarcastic wiseass, hired me, and loved what I wrote for them.


Which got me thinking about how I have some friends who are so afraid of rejection that they won't even try. Whether it's job applications or sending out their writing, they'd rather not try than get a no. But if you don't try, you can't get a yes either.

In college, I auditioned for almost every play and musical that came along. Despite stage fright that strangled my vocal chords and temporarily destroyed my singing ability during auditions. I don't know what I thought I was going to do if I actually got into a show. I did get cast as a witch in Macbeth, thanks to my superior cackling skills. But the rest of the time, I auditioned, didn't get cast, then helped build the set, or whatever.

For the few shows that I didn't audition for, I'd sit in the audience and think that I could've been in the show if only I'd tried. Even though prior experience showed that I probably wouldn't have gotten cast in that show either.

[Transition that makes sense in my brain and probably nowhere else.]

In junior high, I was on the math team, because I was just that cool. Our teacher/coach recruited this girl Effie (not her name), but when the after school tournament started, she went home instead of sticking around for the tournament (aka, the big exciting 5 word problems). We grabbed a smart person who was still around and carried on. 

Then a few weeks or months later, as we were applying for high schools, one high school was offering a math scholarship, based on the results of a test. Effie signed up. I was too shy to raise my hand, but later told the teacher that I wanted to take it. On the day that we all had to travel to the high school to take the test, Effie backed out, telling people that since I was taking it, she didn't have a chance, so why bother. 

Now, I knew from math team that someone from the next school over was likely to win the scholarship. They placed first at every competition. But that didn't mean I wasn't going to try anyway.

That's when I figured out why Effie bailed on joining the math team. Either she didn't know or care that our scores were considered as a team, not individually. She saw that I was on the team, decided that she wouldn't beat me (which she might have) and gave up.

Which is pretty lame, since for all we know, she could've been better at math than I was.

Fear of failure? Not me. I've got much practice at that I am AWESOME at failing. Now success, that blows my mind. 

What about you?


  1. If you aren't failing, you aren't pushing hard enough, imo.

  2. I've been failing repeatedly since I couldn't exit stage right correctly in the 6th grade when I was cast as a witch in "Macbeth" too ("All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Glamis"...that was my one line before I had to twirl off).

  3. Hey, my comment was posted as "Anonymous" but I selected Name/URL...or so I thought.

  4. Great post. That's why Sisters in Crime has a Queen of Rejections contest--because if you're not out there risking failure, you're not going to succeed either. Most of the Queens go on to success.

  5. I've always felt that you have cheated yourself by not turning your cackling virtuosity into a paying career. *sad*


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