Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On Being Brave Enough to Fall (Not Fail)

"You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be." Ray Bradbury

I discovered this quote a couple years ago, and it kind of soaked into my skin and stayed with me. I remember it now and again, usually right when I'm about to let fear make a decision for me. "Don't."

Fear and I have a stubborn relationship.

When I feel it, I want to defy it. I hate when fear wins. I hate when I shrink because it's the safe or comfortable thing to do. There's big things, like moving to California or jumping out of a plane at age 18 because my friend Mariah and I made a pact three years earlier that we would do it. And there's small things, like last weekend when I was invited to go on a river trip with a few people I'd just met. Right before falling asleep the night before, I suddenly thought, "This is going to be awkward. I don't even have anyone's number, just a meeting spot at 7am. What if they leave me? What if no one talks to me? What if it's four awful hours trapped on a river with people who don't like me?"

I had those thoughts because I am human. And then I told them to leave-me-the-*ell-alone because I am me, and because of Ray Bradbury and "Don't be." And that river trip, just like every other time I've gone to a social activity as "the new girl" and thought about backing out at the last second, is something I'm glad I was brave enough to do.

I'm not afraid of mistakes. I'm not afraid of them because I make them all. the. freak. time.

I say dumb things. I write dumb things. I drop things and break them. I don't go running when I should. I don't relax when I should. I like the wrong boys. I let the right boys get away. Or I just like them at the wrong time. Or something. I spill my dinner on myself. I forget to call people when I say I will. I wear outfits that a week later I'm like, "What was that....?" And so on.

I listened to an audio speech this morning about mistakes and failure. My favorite part was when he told a story about his daughters taking ice skating lessons, and how they could barely stay upright even when holding on to the wall. When they officially started their lessons, they were surprised when the instructor said no more hanging on to anything. If they could barely keep their feet under them even while holding on, how would they possibly manage it without holding on at all?

The reason, he said, is that they needed to learn how to fall. Just let go, and let yourself fall down.

My life is ice skating. (And while I'm actually pretty good at real life ice skating, we're speaking metaphorically right now.) And life is about learning how to fall. I quit my job in the last couple months, left my family and friends and my everything behind, secured a new temporary job that turned out to be muuuuch more temporary than it was supposed to be, applied to a bazillion jobs and haven't had much of a response to all those careful cover letters yet. Fall, fall, fall.

Falling, but not failing.

Throughout this whole California shenanigan, I've repeatedly been asked a lot of "what if" questions. "What if you don't find a job?" "What if you run out of money?" "What if you get homesick?" What if, what if, what if. I'm not naturally the "what if" type, so my response to those questions is usually, "Then I'll figure it out." Life goes on. I gave it a go, and life goes on. I don't believe in playing small because of an ominous, lurking, nasty "what if."

I'm fine with missed shots and almost-theres and you'll-get-it-next-times. I'm fine with bruised knees and scraped palms and frustration and delayed success. I'm learning how to fall, so I can learn how to skate. Falling, but not failing. Just being brave, letting go, and letting myself fall down a little. And you know, I think I recommend it.


Unknown said...

So, I took ice skating twice in college and super loved it. And blasted waltz jumps were going to be the death of me, I just knew it. But I jumped and fell and jumped and fell over and over and finally figured it out when I stopped being scared of the falling. You can't really jump if you're already anticipating the fall and you can't soar until you've really, really jumped.

And I needed this reminder because sometimes it's hard to go back and jump again and sometimes it's scary to even get out on the ice, but I need to remember that I never regret it when I'm brave.

Erin said...

Two paragraphs in I was going to recommend you listen to the talk (BYU Devo) that you had already listened to. CRAZY!

P.S. Do you know Jill Jarvis...the guy that gave the talk is her cousin...

Jana said...

This is a reminder I need way more than I feel is right, and it is definitely the thing I struggle hardest with. In fact just this past week I've thought about this, about being brave when you know the end result may be what you don't want. It's so much easier said than done. Thanks for the amazing reminder! said...

Hmmmm, love it! Great concept that falling is not failing.

Tyson J Oliver said...

I hate when I write a thought-out blog post and someone just comments about one tiny detail that wasn't really the point.
But I'm going to do that now.

I went to high school with and am good friends with Ray Bradbury's grandson. I got to meet the guy when Danny (his grandson) was in the school play with me and he was one of the most happy old people I've ever met.


And I also appreciated your post.

Alexis Kaye said...

So, I think you're really great. One of my favorite quotes is by Abe Lincoln (I think) that says "I spent most of my life worrying about things that never happened." Go get em tiger.

Amanda Schroeder said...

Thank you so much for your comment on my blog! I'm glad we can relate to each other one way or another. I absolutely love that failing is not failing. You're learning so much! Stay strong :D