“A person who never made a mistake never tried something new.”
-Albert Einstein –
People are diverse, dynamic, divided, and destructive. Despite our differences and how we use them to define ourselves, we all come with the same set of lifetime guarantees. We are all flawed, we will all fear, we will all fail, and we will all fall (that is why we have Life Alert).
Through our problems we fight for a common goal: success, whatever that means. Maybe it involves running a profitable business, maybe traveling to every country in the world, maybe it is achieving true happiness through immaterial means, or maybe it is raising a semi-functional family; after all, what really is functional? Most likely, it is a much more complicated amalgam of desires determined by a culmination of values and perspectives accrued over the course of a lifetime. No matter the definition, a desire for success is universal, but victory is no guarantee.
Only someone flawless, fearless, who has never felt the stinging self-loathing of failure, would be guaranteed success. So then, would it follow that we as a people should minimize our shortcomings, in an attempt to maximize our odds of success? To try and achieve some sort of pseudo-perfection? I would say, absolutely not. Striving to do the impossible means hauling an insurmountable mountain of pressure on our shoulders, a burden so heavy, it guarantees a life of disappointment.
I have only recently realized that this is the burden of pressure that I have been living with. An irrational desire for perfection that lead me down a road of self-destructive decisions, for the sake of protecting my ego, to avoid accepting that absolutely no one is perfect, and there is no way around it. Instead of putting the effort into a task, I would rather not do it or feign an attempt, so that when the inevitable failure comes along, I can accept it with the excuse that I did not actually try. It is a painfully ironic path paved with delusion and ever increasing dissonance between the life I want and the life I have. The climax of which ended with me being kicked out of The University of Florida, due to utterly failing the last semester I was there.
Maximizing the rate at which personal goals are achieved relies on an entirely different outlook on life. The first step is acceptance. We need to love ourselves for who we are holistically; or as they say: “the good, the bad, and the ugly”. Only then can we be comfortable in our own skin, instead of inflicting psychological pain onto ourselves through self-deprecating thoughts and self-destructive habits. It takes a clear mind free of inner hatred to believe we deserve a chance at success.
We must also accept that no matter what we want in life, there will be failure. Instead of trying to shield ourselves from an inevitable part of life, we need to view it as crucial to the learning process that takes us one step further in the right direction.
Once we can love ourselves for who we are, and embrace the role of failures on the road to personal growth, we eliminate many of the fears and doubts that hold us back from ever starting the journey. There will still be plenty to be afraid of, but we cannot be afraid of fear itself, we must be able to overcome it. Courage is not fearlessness, it is being scared and pushing on anyway.
Coming to terms with these realities of life is something I have always struggled with, and it has led to months wasted that can never be recovered. However, that is all in the past now, and cannot be changed, but as long as I can push through the inner turmoil, learn from my mistakes, and develop a healthy way of handling and overcoming fears, there will always be hope. Where there is hope, there is will, and if there is a will, there is a way.