Dare to Fail

There’s something so beautiful about fireworks: the kaleidoscope of color, each boom’s heart-stopping thrill, and the emotion they convey when displayed against a well-chosen soundtrack. At the same time, they can be terrifying. One misplaced fuse, one ill-timed action, and everything will, quite literally, go up in smoke.

Standing on the edge of achieving a goal can sometimes feel like that – beautiful and thrilling, yet in the same breath, terrifying. One step away from victory and also one step away from disaster. We begin to doubt everything we were so certain of yesterday.

For writers, as we near our novel’s publication date we begin to ask, “What if every review is negative? What if I overlooked an embarrassing grammatical error? What if, despite all my research, I explained every detail inaccurately?” We spend months or years, perhaps decades, crafting what we believe to be an amazing story. We pour a little piece of ourselves onto the paper and risk much to share it with others. Is it worth it?

One summer during college, I apprenticed at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. During one of the most rewarding and educational summers of my life, the most important lesson I learned was said by our technical director during our first apprentice meeting: “Dare to fail.” This phrase has been posted on a little purple sticky note on my desk for over a decade now.

Every goal has a possibility of failure. If we never take chances, we never fail, but we also never succeed. Does this mean we should make reckless decisions? Of course not. We must be smart with our actions, but sometimes breaking out of our comfort zone is the only way to see what we are truly capable of. For introverts, this can be especially difficult, which is why so many of us write our thoughts instead of saying them.

Today is America’s Independence Day, a celebration of people who risked much to achieve much. What if our forefathers never fought for what they believed in? What if our ancestors, from all corners of the world, decided that leaving their country’s familiarity was easier than starting over somewhere new? What if Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln quit before they began? The United States would look very different from the country we know today.

To quote Thomas Edison, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Fear of the unknown is worth the effort. We may succeed in exactly the way we imagined, or nothing could go according to plan, and it all blows up in our face. But we can sift through the ashes to discover that something even better lies hidden beneath our supposed failures.

So dare to fail. I am. Because sometimes, like fireworks, even explosions are beautiful.


Text and Photo Copyright © 2017 Kelsey Gietl.

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