Is it me, or is there a vast, deep, and treacherous canyon sitting between the concept “failure is necessary for growth” and ACTUALLY putting yourself out there and failing?
You don’t want to look stupid. You don’t want to feel stupid. You don’t want other people to see you not winning at life, right?
It all started in 3rd grade- when I got my first (and only) F because of how disorganized (and lazy) I was. This didn’t fly with my overachieving asian dad. To say he freaked out was an understatement. This man was determined to make sure I NEVER failed again, so what did he do? He shamed and embarrassed the hell out of me, and it worked like a charm! For the rest of my school career, I was an overachieving A+ student. I was a model student, but I didn’t take risks.
I didn’t try out for teams, or try to learn instruments- because I didn’t want to look stupid and fail.
I knew how to study and do well, so I stayed in my lane. I was so afraid of rejection, I only applied to my local university, even though I really wanted to go to a more prestigious school. Crazy right? But fear is powerful.
A few months before graduating high school- I was shopping at Best Buy. I saw these guys behind a counter fixing computers, and thought that looked like a cool job. I have no idea what possessed me to do this- but I applied for a job as a computer technician. Now, I’ll be perfectly honest and say up to this point- I had only used computers to play typing games at school and use the internet at my aunt’s house to AOL chat, yes- I’m THAT old.
I have no idea how I actually got the job, but I did (despite my lack of repair skills). My first day on the job- I met my new boss who was the most impatient man on the entire planet. Once he found out I knew nothing- he was ready to fire me on the spot. Luckily, I made a friend who offered to help me learn- but I was under the gun to learn fast and start producing. Everyday felt like I was almost drowning in the deep end. I messed up so much, and I had this huge angry man breathing down my neck. But I didn’t give up. I kept trying, and learning, and failing. But every time I failed, I learned what not to do. Slowly, I stopped being so afraid to fail- mostly because I saw that I wasn’t laughed out of the store, or struck down with shame when it happened- because when fixing things, you don’t always get it right this first time.
Over time, I grew to relish the process of troubleshooting and fixing things. It was fun to try figuring things out, and failing was just part of the process. Once I stopped taking failure so personally, it stopped having so much power over me.
But that’s not where my story ends. That’s where my story really starts. I finally starting LIVING! For the first time in my life- I wasn’t afraid to take a bad photo, or draw a terrible picture.
I wasn’t born a maker- I failed my way into making.
Failing has given me a freedom to try new things every single day, and be ok with sucking at it. It’s a skill I’ve cultivated for the last 20 years of my life.
Now that I’m a mom, you can bet I find opportunities to help my kids practice failing, in a safe way that’s part of the making process. I model failing for them when we do activities and challenges.
I fail, and I show them it’s ok.
I watch them fail, and talk about how failing is part of making.
And that brings me to how I can help you. I get paid to use my imagination, design, build, test, fail, and grow. I love what I do, and I love the process of creating things- whether it’s a birthday card for my son, or a data warehouse at work. I’m here to help your kids cultivate their imaginations, design skills, experimentation, and yes- their comfort with failure.