There’s a certain daunting feature that failure has. It scares the shit out of us. All of us are afraid of failure, and all the embarassment that comes with it. Failure is really scary, it’s like a traumatizing experience that might lingers on our back lurking for opportunities to bring us down again. But for me, there’s something that’s even scarier than fear of failure. I call it so-fear-of-failure-that-i-don’t-even-want-to-start-at-all syndrome. It’s new, or maybe I just made that up.
Usually, I feel that I fear to fail because of the embarassment that comes with it. That people might tease me about failing, that it’s something people can pick on me with, that it’s something so embarassing that people will hang a “loser coming through” sign when they see us. To be honest, it’s us ourselves who hang that sign on our neck. The thing about failure, you learn when you try to get back up. It’s like facing a wall and get knocked down. We ourselves choose to get back up and try to climb it or get around it, or the worse thing to do is to sit down and complain that there’s a wall existing in front of us. We might be ashamed on the attempt another method and still fail. But at least we now know one thing that doesn’t work, we tick that off the list and we try to find a way that works. Lucky for me, I’m a very forgetful person. I always forget what’s so embarassing about some stupid failure in the past, but I can still pick up a lesson or two from it.
There was once a time when I joined a small production team to shoot in Bandung. I was 18 years young and they say that I’ll be “assistant director number 2”. At that time I thought that sounds pretty cool. That after the director, and of course after the assistant director number 1, I’m the important VIP next in line. It boost up my confidence. So when I arrive on set on first day of shooting. I came up confidently to the director and introduce myself and saying that I’m his new assistant and whatever he need, he can tell me about it. I pretty much got ignored (maybe I forget to tell the fact that I was interrupting a conversation between the director and the producers. The director pretty much say “yeah yeah, you must be new. Get lost and wait for instructions”. I was so embarassed that day. The producers joke about me, the director too, behind my back. He didn’t even remember my name by the end of the shoot. The shame that lingers in me is like telling myself to not ever overstep my confidence ever again. But now looking back at it, I don’t even remember the director’s and producers’ names, and I bet they wouldn’t even remember mine. But the lesson of it can still knock behind my head, working like an instinct. Not that I lack confidence after that, but I become aware of things even more. I become confident at the right place, and not be all over the place. It taught me to do my homework first and know what an AD is. Because apparently, the name Assistant Director don’t have anything much to do with a director’s job. I was a time-keeper, noting the tape recording time and noting them down with pen and paper. I made myself pretty much the ass out of the assistant.
One failure might shame you at that one particular moment, but the lesson that you pick up will last you a lifetime.
We only become great when we did some wrongs in the pass and found ways to right it. A lot of lesson can come from doing alright all the time. But by failing, the lesson will double or triple the experience that we gain from just doing alright. Doing alright is just, you know, alright. It won’t make us awesome. In fact, we’ll remember more of the lesson when there are some embarassing story that comes with it. It’s like an old teacher who kept on laughing on you until you found a way to graduate his class. And besides, how do we define our own success if we have never fail. And the best thing to know about failing is that the more we have failed, the more likely we’ll overcome success next. Because imagine if you and me are given the same amount of playing cards. And the quest is simple, it’s to find the King of Diamond by dealing the cards one by one. Chance is 1/52 that you’re gonna deal the right card on the first try, But the more you fail, the more likely that you’re going to find the right card on the next deal, because the next chance is 1/51, and the next 1/50 and so on. Even if you come out last, and people laugh at you because you keep on failing, you won’t even remember them when you emerge the King with a bag full of diamonds. All you have now is the success, and the lessons, the shame seems like it’s never even there.
PS: the featured photo is my most recent failure in capturing milky-way. Went about 131km off the town to find milky-way and all we got is fully clouded sky and storm of volcanic dust.