So it is with, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," for example. Now, obviously, we DO have other things to fear, like, say, having our democratic government completely co-opted by corrupt, tiny-minded men whose only interest is in gathering and preserving wealth and power, at any cost.
Wait, where was I? Oh, that's right. Fear. I think what our friend was trying to warn us away from was something I've been trying to fight all my life, which is a fear of failure which is greater than the consequences of actually failing.
I mean, if someone asked you to jump out of a plane, you might rightfully say, "Uh, if this fails, I'll be a thin layer, so, no thanks." And I'm not going to take you to task for that.
But if I say, "Hey, if you want to design games, you should look at modding some current games and then put them out there on the web," and you say, "Well, I could, but I'd probably suck at it, so it's easier to sit here and watch Blind Date," then I'd have a problem, and I might even give you a stern lecture during that extra-long commercial break that comes after the second date wrap-up and just before the "Hall of Shame," which is never really very good anyways.
Irrational fear of failure is endemic in our society; I think it's the primary factor keeping most people from doing the great things they're meant to do. I've personally never met anyone who worked hard and fearlessly at a field and did NOT succeed. I know there must occasionally BE people who fail despite their best efforts, because I've heard "the stories," but there are SO MANY MORE who simply won't try because they've heard that you can't win.
Failing is to be strived for! If you aren't failing, you aren't at the edge of the envelope of your abilities, and if you aren't at the edge, you aren't stretching yourself, so you aren't learning, so you're just wasting time. Failing is how nature succeeds. Evolution works through failure of the poorest (they get et) more than survival of the fittest. Muscles grow because you work them to failure, and they then respond by getting stronger. Your spinal cord learns not to touch fire by getting burnt. Failure is not just handled gracefully by nature, it is critical.
So, seriously, have you failed today? If not, why the heck not? I mean, think of the consequences of failing, and if they aren't deadly and/or permanently disabling, then go ahead and bite off more than you can chew. Try to cook something that you just made up. Take a bike ride that's too far. Take your car into an empty parking lot and do donuts until you learn where the tires give. Start a project that might be too big for you.
What's the worst that's going to happen? You'll get laughed at? By Erin Martens, that cute girl you had a crush on in 11th grade? And she'll say, "That's why I never went out with you, you stupid idiot, it's because you're such a failure all the time"? And you'll die alone and unliked, and they won't discover your body until it's half-eaten by your cats, who actually had enough food, they just ate you out of spite?
You're right. When's Blind Date on?
Blog redesign: You may notice my blog looks a wee bit different. I'd like to thank everyone who sent me entries; there were many lovely ones. 20-year-old Spaniard Alex Bendiken's struck me the right way, so he gets 15 seconds of fame (from me, at least), and his iPod will be sent off as soon as he sends me his address. Congratulations, Alex!