Why we adore, yet hate, the terrible failures of life and can't seem stop posting about it.
We all do it. We dress up our failures, claim to make a mess of our lives every weekend, despair at the situations we get ourselves into. We treat our failure the same as a level of success; if we are to fail, it must be magnificent. Glorious. Brag-worthy.
We create stories from our defeats - failure has become a delicious concoction of moments which we can reel off to strangers at parties, acquaintances at work events, drink in hand and laughing. It's a currency we can use to elevate ourselves in social standing. Earnestly explaining how we managed to fuck up and god, doesn't that make us human?
But exactly how deeply have we sunk into catastrophe? Is it as painful as we have detailed, or are we creating a certain level of admiration for failure, in order to wear it proudly on our sleeves like we once did with our hearts?
We call ourselves out before anyone else can, because even if we might be dealing with a level of failure, we still totally know best. Right?
Let's be honest; we're all guilty of exaggerating our failures into successes. We will shriek in horror over drunken mistakes or cringe realising we've sent an email to the wrong person. We'll live-tweet wearing the wrong shoes to work, one black and one brown. The sort of failure only the morning can create, because c'mon, no one is a morning person are they? Running our mouths a bit too much or jumping too quickly onto a band wagon. Attempting to launch a business thinking there's an audience, when really it's a few favourites on a tweet. It doesn't work. But that's fine. We own our failures. They are OURS.
We call ourselves out before anyone else can, because even if we might be dealing with a level of failure, we still totally know best. Right? We know ourselves inside and out. We've read the self help books on the art of creative living like Big Magic and understood how many fuck-ups it will take to become a #GIRLBOSS. Individually been taught to own those screw-ups we've made, because they make us imperfect and human and totally relatable. When we own those failures, describe them in detail or allude to them with a nonchalant wave of a hand, we are spilling secrets our audience wants to hear. They want the red faced moments, so the story swirls from horror to glamour. A rite of passage so cliche, it's disappearing as a moment of shame.
We own our failures. They are OURS.
Failure has become a new buzzword in our millennial-pinked-landscape. Our embrace of all things failure as a generation has helped us to understand the steps to success and fame. Those steps can be more like a good few flights of stairs, but we know that now. However, we have started to make a mockery out of failure. We've turned failure from a roughened, tight lipped figure into something that looks a bit like victim-hood and a lot like a hot mess. Its somewhere in between, because recent failures has become the new go-to party tricks. It's not as if we fear failure, but are we actually learning from it? Or simply claiming to do so on social media?
We're guilty of selling our failures like they're successes, ensuring everyone knows the rumour of an 'overnight success' is a fable people tell when they refuse to look at the work behind the triumph.
Fear; A rite of passage so cliche, it's disappearing as a moment of shame. Becoming it's own banal phrase than a thing to build up from.
But here's the thing about dressing failure up like you're going out for a night on the town. You don't escape failure, the same you can't roll out of bed and avoid the fear when hungover. Failure is an inevitable part of life. The tales of failure to success, a modern day rags to riches, is a tale well told. Richard Brandon at Virgin, J. K. Rowling and her countless rejection letters, or even Samuel L. Jackson finding fame in Hollywood at age 43. The list goes on but the message is clear. You can be successful no matter how many times you fail.
However, there are some things about making the pillars of Failure and Success so close in stature, we run the risk of losing the bit in the middle. The gritty bit. The bit that matters, because not only does it humble us when we find success, but it gives us the confidence to trust the process. You may wear the defeat of a Bad Idea or a Wrongly-Timed-Decision like armour, but you can forget that you can't skip out on the lessons hidden in the screw-ups. The bit that turns us from minnows to a #GIRLBOSS (Netflix series up for debate).
It's only through trusting the process do we grow. Let go of the glamorization of failure and see it for what it is; a moment of defeat. And a moment to rebuild on what you have misjudged or lost.
Yes, failure can be funny when it's You've Been Framed style videos of people falling, but don't fall into the trap of missing out on the uncomfortable lesson failure is trying to teach you. It's meant to hurt, be more than a red face.
You really think J K Rowling made those millions on a red faced moment?