Learning in public inherently includes failing in public, too.
I wish that felt liberating. But actually, it scares me.
I’m certain I’m gonna wind up messy here as I try something new. I could make an utter fool of myself.
What will my peers think? What will happen to my professional image? How exposed will I find myself feeling? Will I wind up regretting things I say? Worry pokes at me, deflating tender little pockets of eagerness and enthusiasm.
It’s way easier, immensely safer, to hug tight to silence, to nod knowingly and stay still, only dreaming of daring deeds while I carry on with the unending tasks that actually require doing. Work. Laundry. Eating cookies.
It’s so much easier to shove learning behind the curtain, heck, off the marquis all together. To put exploration at the bottom of the list. As if what’s important as adults is only what we know, not that we are still growing and learning. And even making mistakes.
The insidious danger here is that it becomes a habit. A precedent. When I only expose the polished parts of me, what am I implying I expect of my friends? Do I slowly grow a husk of intolerance for other’s mistakes?
The reality is, I’m messy at times. And I know a secret about you. You are, too.
Here’s a good part–those wonky, off-the-rail times often veer us into new territory. Inside ourselves. With our friends. Aren’t those soft, vulnerable centers and sharp, raw edges the tracks to meaningful parts of our lives?
When we wrap up in tidy facades, we’re fencing off access to some of our most valuable territory. Like authenticity.
I hunger for authenticity with my friends. At the same time I want it from them, I can be wary of exposing myself, doubting the worth of my thoughts or anxious that my honesty will land awkwardly.
It is scary.
Culturally, we appreciate explorers–those who find new shores, new cures, new answers. We applaud pioneers who tough out the path less traveled to find some prize or push back a boundary. But with ourselves, it’s easy to draw a narrower line within which to fill in the colors of our lives.
I love my familiar routines, but as a human I’m wired for novelty and exploration. You are, too. Our brains like to plant flags on new bits of understanding or accomplishments that expand our sense of what’s possible. This is as much a part of a vital, engaged life as air and water.
But failing makes us vulnerable. We might get kicked from the group, berated, or discounted. Why even try?
In her fascinating book ‘The Rise’, Sarah Lewis explores the interrelationship of success and failure. She shows that what we commonly think of as two ends to a spectrum are actually intertwined cords. Success and failure are not so much opposites as intermingled strands. Lewis explains how a competitive archer does not shoot at her bull’s eye, but must adjust her aim ‘off’ in order to achieve what she wants. Samuel Morse doggedly pursed a painting career for decades, but it is the telegraph and communication inventions that we remember him for today. Success and prowess come from perseverance through repeated ‘failures’, through aims that might seem to be off target.
I’m starting this blog right smack in the middle of not knowing. I intend to post every Monday and to add a quote or a touchstone on Thursdays.
I’m showing up here. I’m learning here. I want to explore what creates meaning and satisfaction in life. I think this includes leaning in to the places glimmering at the edges of our desires. Even when it’s scary. I’m here to share musings. I’d love to hear yours, too.
Come along when you can. Your comments, your unique journey, your perspective are valuable. What ideas are tugging at you, asking you to dare? How can you go about it, even if it’s scary? Keep in touch.
Let’s not quit making mistakes. Let’s not give up on learning. Let’s support each other in leaning into life.