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Failing Forward

Angela Tuck | Mar 16, 2023

Failing Forward


I dressed in all white for a white party. Being perfectly aware of how vulnerable I was in all white I triple checked my coffee cup lid for any weakness. I purposefully leaned over my desk to avoid the inevitable drip. As my coffee cup reached the halfway mark my confidence grew. I was going to get through this cup of coffee without failure. 


The failure in this case was a drip of coffee on my crisp white shirt. A catastrophic failure would be coffee on my white shirt and white pants. My deliciously sweet, creamed coffee flowed through the top with some resistance and as I pulled more liquid through the hole with my mouth in the blink of an eye the top popped off and the rest of the coffee splashed onto my shirt and pants. Shocked in disbelief, I sat there with my mouth open unable to make a move to help myself. A person next to me ran to get napkins to help me clean myself up. The thoughts of failure crashed into my head like a tidal wave. I was horrible to myself. I was embarrassed, disappointed, and mad that I had done this to myself. I took the right precautions. I put thought into this. How did I fail? My brain screamed loser, loser, loser, loser! I had defeated myself. 


I was afraid of this. I was afraid of spilling coffee on my white shirt because, if I did I would look like a loser. I did this because I was afraid of what I was going to feel when I didn’t meet my own expectations. I decided to make my expectation mean something that hurts. How I experienced this failure was my choice. The “failure” is only awful because I made it awful. 


If failure is not meeting your expectations, then success is meeting your expectation. The best way to meet your expectations is to practice and learn what doesn’t work. That way you’re not dwelling on the fact that you failed. Instead, you’re focused on what you need to do to succeed. So, how do I succeed at drinking coffee with a white shirt on? I’m still working on that. I know one thing though; practice makes you better and if I’m ever going to succeed at white shirt coffee drinking I’m going to have to do it again and be willing to fail forward. I’m going to fail, but as I practice, I know that I’m going to treat myself with respect next time.


Where does fear of failure hold you back? You’re going to fail at some point, but next time use that opportunity to learn and take care of yourself. Use it as an opportunity to love yourself more, not less.

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