In college I loved listening to TED talks. I was totally wrapped up in them when I was an undergraduate, always enthralled with the new technology and ideas being discussed. After school ended, though, I had a disconnect from a side of me I really loved– the curious, bookworm self that seemed to disappear under the weight of newfound responsibilities. More recently, I’ve begun to reconnected with that self. Maybe it’s because part of me (a large part) really misses the atmosphere of college; the lectures, the talks– yes, even the coursework. Maybe part of me mourned losing that more than I realized at the time.
My journey to becoming a healthier, and overall happier person has been a long, personal one. It was a promise I made to a close friend before she left this world. It was a conversation we had in a yard where agility had been played, and discussed, and loved for years. She was sick then, but still she told it like it was (always her way). She knew I could be better, and so did I. I didn’t detail too much of that side of my journey because I was afraid of failing– of disappointing her and myself. I feared that if I shared what I was trying to do too publicly, and didn’t meet the goals I set, I would be viewed as a failure. Complete open honesty here, people. Yikes.
But I listened to a TED talk this morning– continuing this reconnection– and a quote completely surrounded me. I’ve been mulling it over all day.
“Failure is an option. Fear is not.” – James Cameron
Fear. Failure. Two of the things I struggle with most often. Especially this old standby: being afraid to fail. The truth is, I did fail on this quest to get healthier. There were days (months) that went by where I gave up, gave in, and had set-backs. But I persisted.
Why do we so easily reject failure and accept fear?
The truth is, we will fail. All of us. At some point if what we’re doing is big and ambitious and important and worthwhile– we will fail along the way. I’ve done it more times than I care to admit– or truly, more than I can probably count. While I don’t think this is at all a new revelation it seems to be one we are reluctant to admit to. The word itself– failure– is heavy. It is laden with negative connotations. It is sharp at the edges. It hurts. We have been taught to think “failure is not an option” so much that we’ve all begun to believe it, myself included. So much so that when we do inevitably fail at something we feel far more defeated than we should. I know I felt that way flying home from Cynosports. And frankly, I know I’ll feel that way again.
What failure should do instead, is teach. What mattered most was that I took something away from Tennessee. A lesson about timing, about nerves, about energy that I hadn’t gotten anywhere else. It propelled us forward the rest of the season. It made us better.
When we fail it means we actually did something, something that existed outside of our comfort zone– we tried, damnit. If we never travelled past that point we would never have the chance to fall. I believe that is essential for growth (and later success, too).
Fear, on the other hand, is a different concept all together. Fear limits us more than failure alone does. I’ve been trying to work hard on being open to the possibility of failure without letting it hold me back. Was Cynosports disappointing? Yes. But I will put myself out there again– I will take a big stage again with my dog without hesitation. Because he deserves it, because we together as a team deserve it.
Because I’ve learned not to fear what will come from it.
Failure I’ll accept. But fear? Fear is something I will continue to refuse.