Imagine if society’s message changed from “you are valuable if and when society says you succeed” to “you are valuable if you commit to taking on difficult and worthy causes, even if society says you fail”. – Marina Alessandri
Picking battles in our increasingly broken world can be disillusioning. We continue to see the goal posts ever moving further away or we realise that through all our struggles we have been going nowhere. In the face of imminent failure the socially conditioned part of us perceives our personal value as slowly descending and teaching us to take on less difficult endeavours, ones that we think we can ‘win’. If we succeed, our stock level goes up, if we fail, our stock plummets.
Reading the latest instalment of Womankind Magazine I flicked onto a piece entitled ‘The freedom to fail’ by Marina Alessandri, Professor of Philosophy based at the University of Texas. As I began reading it pointed my thoughts inward towards my own insecurity and I caught myself thinking about the things that I consider success’ and failures in my life. As someone who finds value in being excellent in all my fields of interest the fear of failure is almost paralysing. I haven’t followed through with projects because I felt unsure about my own ability. I routinely give up on things that I feel aren’t my natural talent. I sell my potential short because if I fail in my pursuit, what’s the point?
Redefining what success and failure is an important consideration, one which frees me to embrace my pursuits fully and without trepidation or fear. Just like writers should keep writing, even though success is most widely judged by publications; artists should keep creating, even if a they never sell a work. These pursuits are worthy and valuable because you take risks; you learn, adapt and find new ways to see the world.
With each year that passes I begin to become more comfortable in my own skin, in who I am and I have found that this has tempered my fears ever-so-slightly. By valuing the pursuit of causes and projects I believe in despite their chances of ‘success’, I am gaining the ability to be bold, to fight battles against giants that I cannot not win simply because they are worthwhile, no matter the outcome.
By abandoning our desire for success and choosing failure instead, we becomes free to take on all sorts of difficult and scary projects, and for different reasons.