When I was 16, I did what every teenager dreams of: taking my driver’s test. I failed it. I didn’t understand why I was bad at driving when my other classmates passed. The second time I took the test, I failed it again.
All in all, I failed my road test five times.
So, how’s my driving now? My car insurance company considers me enough of a “safe driver” to give me a discount, so there’s that. But I still managed to total my car when I was 27. So… Average? Let’s go with average.
Regardless, it’s just one more example of how I fail at everything I attempt.
Ok. So the headline is hyperbole, but only slightly. Technically, I did make it through high school, college, and grad school. So I didn’t fail school. I just fail at everything else.
I failed at staying thin. I fail at maintaining contacts. I fail to make friends. I failed at several romantic relationships. I fail at winning bids. I fail to secure funding. I fail to secure cast and crew for my projects. I fail to secure clients. I fail to turn a profit in business. I fail to secure repeat business. I’m even failing at my marriage, partially because I’m failing to reproduce.
I don’t fail in a vacuum, however. As far as friends and contacts go, some people have told me I fail because I’m too assertive, aggressive, or intimidating, while others state that my frank nature is what makes me interesting. While I’m old enough to know that my race and gender play a part in people perceiving me to be aggressive, I do imagine that my personality is a turnoff for many people. After all, I strongly identify as a feminist of color. Depending on who you are, that’ll automatically make me a person you’d hate. So I would fail to be your friend.
What about tangible failures like the road test or fundraising? How much of that failure is me versus “the system”? I’ll admit there may have been some factors beyond my control. For example, in one of my road tests, I automatically failed it when another vehicle ran a stop sign while I was already in the intersection and my instructor believed I didn’t see the car. She panicked and I failed. But despite that factor, I still was one controlling the car. So it was my failure completely. It didn’t matter whether the instructor prematurely panicked, or if that other driver failed to yield. It was still my failure.
As an artist, I’m getting used to failing. To more capitalist-minded individuals, being an artist is the epitome of failure. Rejection becomes commonplace, especially when you put so much effort into a project. Or maybe, an idea that was awesomesauce in my head sometimes turns to garbage after execution. I’ve abandoned projects I considered lost causes only to return to them. I fail to gather enough people to even care about my work. But I continue to create.
If, by my own admission, I fail so much, why do I continue to push on? Isn’t it easier to quit? Well, yeah, of course, it is. But part of me likes the idea that I tried, and I tried my best. Failing is nothing to be afraid of. It’s merely something to conquer.
While I don’t consider myself fearless, I was the sort of person that traveled 3000 miles away from home to work at a pipe dream profession. Which I failed at. Twice. I even quit my day job to pursue that dream, failing tremendously in the process. But if you ask me, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.