Failure *IS* An Option
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Health and Wellness

Failure *IS* An Option

...And an incredibly valuable tool.

Failure *IS* An Option

Apollo 13 (real event and movie) showed us rather heroically that failure is not an option. But it is always a possibility; one that should lift us up and launch us forward, not leave us by the wayside, inhibiting our future actions.

So many people these days, myself included, are afraid to fail. We think people will judge us, that our pride will be bruised beyond repair, and that we may never feel ourselves again. But in recent events, I'm finding out more and more that that is just not the case. Failure, if anything, is a source of encouragement and a tool for learning. Failure is human. How many instances of failure do you think it took to create the gadgets, the medications, the foods, and social activism we have today?

A couple of weeks ago I had to give a speech for a communications class. I felt prepared, I felt confident, and I felt like nothing could get in the way of that feeling. 15 minutes before I was supposed to go to class I realized I had no idea where my note card prompts were. (As it turns out, I had left them in the classroom from the last time I was supposed to present--we ran out of time in class before we got to my presentation). But in the moment I was frazzled beyond belief. I scrambled to re-create them, threw typed text, note cards, tape, and scissors in a bag so that I could throw them together once I got there and barely made it to class on time.

It was too late. I had lost my head, and though my original set of note cards was handed to me upon my arrival to class (I was flooded with relief), the panic had not yet worn off yet. As a result, the presentation suffered. Unrehearsed "um's" and "uh's" crept in and I couldn't seem to keep my hair out of my face (*note for next time, wear my hair up or use a headband!!). I went over my time limit due to the inability to get through (probably too much) information. Needless to say, I was relieved when it was over.

Just today I got a preview of my grade for the assignment and, because I do strive so often to do the best I possibly can on everything, I was left disappointed, with "could've's" and "would've's" racing through my head. And before I know it, it happens. The "failure is not an option" mindset creeps in, leaving me with nothing but a bitter taste of the negative observation of my performance. I had aimed for the highest but had missed the mark. The mantra rumbles onward: "perfection or bust!" It is the quintessence of success and anything less is perceived too often as a personal reflection of exaggerated shortcomings and flaws as human beings.

But it is a trap.

Perfection is rare, not commonplace, and incessantly searching for it is futile.

I view this (along with other instances of failure in my life) not as a failed mission, but a mere miss in a game of battleship. Just because you don't quite hit the ship doesn't mean it's all for naught. Sure, you didn't pepper the opponent with naval ammunition, but you sure as heck have gained some useful information, like where the boat isn't.

This next time around, since I know where the boat is not, I can aim my fire towards a more reasonable part of the waters. This miss has re-instilled in me the importance of preparation in advance, increased mindfulness, and it has been a slap on the wrist for my procrastination habits. But above all, it has kept my expectations in check and reminded me that failure is normal, necessary for growth, and a valuable tool in victoriously sinking the next big ship.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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