I hate failing.
Not only do I hate failing, but I hate the sheer idea of it. I hate it so much that probably 9 times out of 10 I would absolutely much rather just not do something at all than face trying it and failing miserably. It’s funny how when you start talking to people, a lot of times you realize you aren’t alone in almost anything, especially the things that make your skin crawl. (i.e. failing.) There’s always someone out there who feels you. It’s good to know you’re not the weird one.
We, in this age of overly edited Instagram pictures with the perfectly punny caption, and overthought tweets with just the right amount of wit and humor, have set ourselves up to be absolutely terrified of not being seen as ______ (*insert insecurity here*) enough. We can’t stand the thought of not being seen as the funny one, the pretty one, the adventurous one. We’re so afraid of being ordinary that we lock ourselves in a safe, perfectly framed, seemingly-flawless-on-the-outside box and swallow the key. We would rather pretend we’re okay, pretend we’re happy, pretend we aren’t terrified of what comes next in order to save ourselves from going for it and maybe falling on our face.
Social media is not all to blame, but it’s an easy target. What it really comes down to, though, is that society in its self is just downright competitive. You can see it anywhere. Schools, offices, magazines, TV… everything seems to scream “YOU HAVE TO BE GREAT! IF YOU AREN’T THE BEST/SMARTEST/PRETTIEST/FUNNIEST YOU ARE NOTHING.” Our whole lives are a competition and the room for error is little to none.
The problem with this is obvious, but as much as we preach for understanding and acceptance, we do nothing to actually combat this expectation of perfection. We play into it every day. We are a people petrified of “doing it wrong.” Saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, looking stupid, sounding stupid. We’re so conditioned to seeing judgement, ridicule and criticism as the acceptable reaction to almost any scenario that instead of stepping in, we step away… we lean out as far as we can so as not to be taken down with the ship.
The thing is, when you look around at this crazy, scary, turmoil-ridden world we live in, there is no evidence that this perfectly-pictured lifestyle is doing us any good. We are self-perpetuating watered-down lives. We are leading people to live in their boxes, we are encouraging them to be okay, not courageous. We are telling people to be brave, but only if their efforts lead to success because if they don’t, well, that’s just embarrassing.
We praise those who are “different,” the ones who go out on a limb… but only if what they do makes them look cool. Only if what they do makes them appear stronger, happier, funnier or braver than they were before. If you go for it and fail, well, you might as well have not done anything at all.
So I’m calling BS on this filtered world. I’m calling BS on the perfect, the poised, the posed. Mostly because I’m tired of playing into it myself. I’m tired of not saying what I want to say or what I need to say because I’m not certain that the outcome is going to be what I want it to be. I’m tired of looking good on the outside just so no one can see what’s falling apart on the inside. I’m tired of seeing friends that I know are hurting pretend that everything is okay because if they don’t, someone may think they’re not strong (smart, courageous, exciting, pretty, indestructible) enough. I’m tired of seeing people who are capable of incredible things settle for mediocre because they just don’t know if they can make it with something bigger/better/more “out there.” I’m tired of being afraid of life because someone might laugh at me or because every moment may not be Instagram worthy.
A perfect life is absolutely impossible. There is no way you will get to the end of your journey and look back and say “Wow, my life was flawless. I never fell down. No one ever laughed at me, thought I was weird or pitied me for doing it wrong.” Failing is certain. But with failing comes freedom. With freedom comes joy. And with joy comes a life well-lived.
So do it, go there, be that, tell them. At some point, you have to realize how unfulfilling perfect is and how rewarding living fully, bravely and even a little recklessly can be.