Life · Personal · Philosophy

Trying and Failing

Or: My Life in a Nutshell.


It’s past the deadline for a few assignments and I’m sitting here, at 3:21 AM considering not doing them at all.  I want to be writing.

I don’t hold it as a secret that I’m a terrible student.  I’m intelligent, or so I’m told.  (One friend called me a genius–I don’t believe him.)  But I am very unmotivated to keep up with assignments.  I take classes because this is my third time trying for a Bachelor’s and I tell myself that this will be it, this will be when I finish a degree.  It’s not even in a subject I care for–the ambiguous “General Studies” degree–but I have to finish it.  Whether it is to appease my mother or for myself, that is debatable.  Still, not including this one, I’m only two quarters away from a degree.  The end is in sight.

And, at the moment, I could care less.

Of course, being a student is never a career choice and my career at the moment is in the midst of an upheaval.  I largely do one of two things on a given day: write code or write fiction.  I’ve inundated myself with projects for a variety of reasons, some of them for myself and the rest (the majority, really) for building a portfolio for a career that will pay for what I really want to do: write.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy web design–I do most days, as it is an exercise in creativity–but my passion lies in writing.

The thought occurs to me, however, that I might never succeed as a writer, not like Neil Gaiman or Albert Camus or Kazuo Ishiguro or even Anne Rice.  But then again, what is our definition of success?  What is my definition of success?  Is it money?  Fame?  Or being remembered?  Isn’t that what is truly important in considering my (potential) career in writing?

It was wonderful happenstance that part of my readings and assignments for the last week was looking into society’s definition of success and failure.  Among the pieces assigned was this commencement speech by JK Rowling at Harvard in 2008.  In it, the Harry Potter author discusses her road to success and describes how failure was a large part of success.  (She also speaks on her early years of working at Amnesty International and the importance of imagination–it’s a very good listen and I highly recommend it.)  So, we come to this idea that failure is not an absolute end; but, rather, a step to succeeding in life.  An experience to learn from, if you will.

It seems sort of a given, doesn’t it?  That you learn from mistakes, from failures; that it is just something you’re supposed to do.  And yet, it’s not ingrained in us.  We may know it, but we don’t feel it.  I certainly don’t most days–the thought of failure is enough to give up my dreams.  So, we have to learn it from the beginning.  To make it a conscious choice.  As the internet knows, Rowling is a woman to listen to.  So, let’s start again and not give up.

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