Why We Sometimes Fail By Default

When I decided to start this self exploration journey, I asked my roommate if she would choose which quote that I write about first. She gladly did, and I’m sure she chose this one on purpose (thanks Ana). When I really looked into myself as I interpreted this quote, I realized how much I let fear control my life. Also, a big thank you to J.K. Rowling for the inspirational quote, enjoy!



“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all- in which case, you fail by default.”              -J.K. Rowling


To me, failure is a myth. Failure is just a justification for my depression and fear of my greatness. It’s easier to not try, than to comprehend my own power. My power is in-congruent to what my brain tells me on a daily basis: that I am not capable or worthy; but I am. I am very capable, if I were to just believe it so. The concept of failure is another classy form of self sabotage;  a way to keep us stuck in life, afraid of our own shadow. It’s a label we got in school when we weren’t good enough for corporate standards. So some of us gave up trying. Why try when there is a possibility that we won’t be good enough anyway? This mindset is what got us addicted, numb, disconnected from each other, and unhappy with ourselves and our lives.

Since childhood, I have been conditioned to relate taking risks with pain and failure, which in not uncommon. To take a chance, we risk experiencing pain.  I’m talking about negative pain; physical pain; emotional pain; the type of pain that does not encourage growth. For those who know me, you can attest that I am very clumsy. I have broken or dislocated around ten bones in my body over the course of my soon to be 27 years. My very first injury was a summer bike accident when I was 8. My cousin challenged me to a bike race. During the final stretch, he cut me off and hit my front tire and well… I went flying arms first into the gravel. I had a green plaster cast for the remainder of my summer vacation, which disabled me from doing pretty much anything outside or with water. I had taken a chance and I had failed. Events like this helped shape my schema, or perception on life from an early age. I’ve also been in two snowboarding accidents that resulted in casts and slings. Eventually, I admitted defeat and stopped trying to be athletic, but that did not stop my injuries. I was in color guard my senior year of high school and dislocated my knee doing a dance lunge. I also have a nice raspberry scar on my leg from my pre-pubescent attempt at skate boarding. These events were shaping my thoughts into beliefs that if I try to do something, I will only get hurt. So why try? This flowed over into my relationships throughout life and still something I struggle with today. I don’t take certain chances because I don’t know how much more pain my body can take. In high school, I took a chance and started dating. Long story short, he did not treat me very well and as far as I know, he still serving a jail sentence for extensive violence.

So if my experiences are as such, I’m thinking, “why even try? I don’t see any good results.” Outside of school and learning, I adopted this mentality. So you can imagine how restricting this can be for a very motivated, feministic lady like myself. It’s very conflicting to be motivated and deathly scared of failure at the same time. Since I’ve started my self-improvement journey, I have learned that I need to start taking chances, and being open to the trial and error attitude in life. “Well, this didn’t work, let me try something else that may be more suited to me.” This is not easy, but it has helped me to believe fully what my limits are as a human being, and celebrating my achievements for risks I did take, whether or not they worked out. I like to relate this to the movie, “The Yes Man.” We as people get to live life to our fullest potential when we trudge through fear and go for what we want, regardless of the risk for it not working out the way we hope.

How I Fail By Default

During my very first visit with my therapist last year, it took her all of five minutes to ask about my mysterious and aloof attitude. This completely took me off guard since no one confronts me on how I relate to people. After a few weeks of therapy, I had come to realize that my aloof attitude keeps me ‘safe,’ from caring too much, also from trying. I avoid failure, rejection, and judgment by stagnation. If I don’t move forward in life, I don’t risk not being good enough. However, it is a double-edged sword. If I don’t take risks, I go nowhere in life. This is failing by default. If I don’t practice being my authentic self, I don’t grow as a person. A mentor once told me that if we as people are not growing, we are dying. And dying at age 26/27 to me, would be failure. 

A Better Way

My adopted and imperfect view on this now is that I want to live by trial and error. I try something: if it works, great, keep doing it. If not, then I ask myself if I tried my best. If I did then it was not meant for me. This view has helped me immensely keep my negative self talk minimized and has enabled me to more easily practice self-love. Because we are all worthy and amazing humans in this world, and not everything is meant for us on an individual level. To view this as failure is a disservice of great proportions to ourselves. What I know I need to do is to focus on the things that were meant for me, and not judge myself by the things that were not meant for me in this life. 

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