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FAILURE AND LOATHING

By February 15, 2013 courage 2 Comments

By Mohan Karulkar:

If at first you don’t succeed … try, try again.”

Or so we like to say.  But do we really believe that?  Are we capable of looking past multiple failures?   It works in hindsight, when you already know a person has become successful.  But if you’re watching the failures unfold before your eyes, it’s hard not to think, “enough already.”

There’s the girl who keeps dating abusive boyfriends, or the crappy band that just won’t call it quits.  And our timelines and News Feeds are all filled with bloggers who border on spammers, hoping to strike internet gold with questionable content. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you shake your head, because in most real-life cases, we’re not very supportive of repeat failure.  Not in others, and not in ourselves.

Which is all the more reason I’m feeling a bit discouraged these days.

About 5 years ago, my hard drive crashed and I lost my graduate thesis.  I paid a lot of money to have it recovered, and became obsessive about backing everything up afterwards.  I had learned my lesson.  But you know what?  About 3 weeks ago, it happened again. This time it was photos and videos of my son’s first year, on a drive that was new and not backed-up yet. So once again, I’ve shipped the drive off to an expensive recovery lab, hoping they’re able to save some things.

I swear, I learned my lesson the first time. Only apparently, I didn’t.  And it’s made me feel pretty low, full of regret and disgust.  When you get a second chance, you’re supposed to get it right the next time around.  If you dodge a bullet once, you learn to stop getting shot at, right?

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Pretty much everything we learn is enforced by our mistakes. That’s great in math class, but pretty brutal for life lessons. All that trauma leaves us slow to learn, and so we need end up needing a lot of second chances in real life.

So here’s my point.  Failure feels the worst when you forbid yourself from failing. Expecting perfection from something as messy as life is setting yourself up for failure.  So instead of replaying mistakes and living with regret, let’s focus on the lessons these mistakes teach us.  Let’s focus on things we can change, and learn to see successes along with our failures — in ourselves and others.

Maybe you can call this a #noquitfriday post.  If so, I can’t think of a better way to start the weekend.

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