Failure Is In The Eye of the Beholder

Posted: November 6, 2019 in books, Thoughts on art ministry and life
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been pending a fair amount of time thinking about fear and failure for an upcoming project. Here’re some things that occurred to me recently.

What is failure? I’m sure we could find a definition in the dictionary that would suffice. I’m sure, if we were together in person, you could give me a definition in your own words. The problem is, it’s a sliding scale and everyone defines it differently. You might think of the teacher handing you back a paper with a lot of red ink, and maybe even a big red F in the corner, likely with a circle around it for emphasis, as if the failure was entirely your own. Maybe the F was on your report card. By the way, have you ever noticed most schools skipped right over “E.” A, B, C, and D represent nothing but a level. They are not initials for some word, like “lofty” or “proficient” or “mediocre” which is essentially what they mean, yet we don’t get L’s or P’s or M’s, so there is no earthly reason, why the grade below D is F, except that F means failure and the grading system wants to make sure you didn’t miss the fact that you failed and are therefore a failure. Maybe you’d equate failure with not reaching a certain level in your career or a time when you let someone, maybe even yourself, down. It might reflect a time when you just couldn’t reach the goal. It might even be something your rational mind knows was not your fault, but still you take the blame.

For some failure becomes their name, as in “I’m a failure.” Others will adopt it’s cousins, like “Loser” or “Waste” or “Idiot.” It manifests in questions, like “How could I be so stupid?” Sometimes we think we’re failures because someone labeled us as such. Other times we just see the evidence on the faces of those around us. For me it was all of the above. Sometimes I’d hear statements like “If brains were dynamite, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose.” Other times it was the C on the report card in a field of A’s and B’s. Ironically, that C was for something most people don’t even teach anymore, Cursive. This brings me to another point. A grade of C, is essentially translated as average. For most people C is okay, you’re not the best but neither are you the worst. Most people would see it as maybe needing improvement, but nothing to lose sleep over. For others, a C might as well be an F. In their minds, average, being on par with everyone else equates with failure. Further, why was it so easy to miss the A’s and B’s and the lower grade of C becomes the focus. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this. I can get a hundred positive comments and one negative and that one negative becomes my entire focus. I’m almost positive I’m not the only one and that needs to change.

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