Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Thought: Failure

With a week of this London scouting expedition behind me, and -- unless you count the pints I’ve consumed and the puddings I’ve sampled -- not much to show for it, I thought I’d briefly turn my focus to the idea of failure.


Not exactly a happy thought.

More like terrifying. Particularly with all of you watching.

It doesn’t help that Ms. Penthouse can’t seem to keep her mouth shut:

‘You know, you’re making a huge mistake. Successful people don’t just move to London and become writers,’ she tells me matter-of-factly. ‘Be realistic. You have a better shot at becoming a ballerina than getting a VISA. And forget about being published; all the good ideas have already been taken anyway. Here, why don’t you take a look at these law school applications instead.’

She is relentlessly pessimistic about this idea, so certain of my impending failure. Every rejection letter or dead end is met with the same smug ‘I told you so’ and a fresh stack of law school brochures.

I’ll admit it, there are days when it’s difficult to ignore her. Her approach to life and dreams seems so much safer; none of those messy, public failures to worry about. Over the weekend, she was particularly persuasive and had nearly convinced me to throw in the towel while I still had my dignity.

Then a funny thing happened. One of my dear friends and greatest champions, Amanda, posted a note on facebook about a personal challenge she was facing in her family. She included stories about several famous people who overcame initial failures to achieve great things, but it was a line in Amanda’s note that inspired me to keep going (and is my Happy Thought this week):

“From failure can come greatness. Never underestimate anyone.”

Most importantly, yourself.