#50DaysCountDownTo2015 – DAY 37. Written by Sam, he blogs at – www.krypstoy.wordpress.com
If there is one thing our society venerates more than YouTube videos of adorable tots, it is success. This is why self-help books can sell very well even if the blueprint they basically follow is to make blatantly obvious life truths appear like secret insightful doses of unrefined wisdom they discovered while binge-drinking with under aged teenagers.
On the other side of this success coin is its smelly neighbor that many people bunk with but are ashamed to admit to knowing in public; failure. I’ve bunked with failure for quite a number of times in my life, and I believe that it’s not a stretch to conclude from my life experiences (and from doing covert amebo) that everyone at certain points in their colorful lives have failed at something (like failing to lick their elbows, which is unquantifiably gross, you hypothetical internet person I’m rolling my eyes at). In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we fail more than we succeed; our successes are built on a foundation of foul mangled bodies of failures.
If anything, we’ve come to agree that if we ever want to ditch our smelly bunkmate that is failure and get in bed with success, the secret is learning from why we fail, and making improvements on them (but that does not apply to licking your elbow. Seriously, stop trying; I’m still rolling my eyes at you). And again, that’s how self-help books sell; people are so eager to learn from other people’s pitfalls because everyone wants to taste the sweet sensation that is success.
But if, say, you do not subscribe to society’s high expectations of success; say, you think it’s cute to wallow in the shallow lake of life’s underachievement; say, you absolutely want to fail at anything, I’ve taken my time to clear a path and create this simple guide just for you (if only to stop you from trying to lick your elbow).
As a foreword, I’ve drawn my guide from a recent failure to learn swimming, which all started a couple of weeks ago when one of my very best friends (let’s call him Dude) told me he was planning a day out at a public swimming pool with a bunch of our ex-classmates and he wanted me to tag along. I simply turned him down, not because I was trying to play hard-to-get like an insanely attractive college girl in a chick flick, but because I can’t swim and absolutely terrified of a body of water. However, Dude kept bugging me for the rest of the week and he was able to finally get me to agree when he convinced me that I was going to have a terrible Saturday anyway I could as well get out of the house. It truly was a Saturday with no EPL, so I agreed…to hang out, not to finally learn how to swim. But it was all the same to him; and from the events of that day, I’ve compiled a learner’s guide to failure (yes, this is a self-help article, shut up):
- Make Excuses
Despite my commitment to the cause, I still hoped to find a way to luck out of going to the swimming pool. I wanted an excuse to not even try at all, and that morning, it rained. I called my friend and said, “Hey Dude, it’s raining, it’s a bad idea to go hang out at the pool today, dude.” He brushed it off and even made compelling argument about how it would make it even more fun. If you ever want to perfect the art of failure, you have to be good at making excuses to not even try to succeed; it is very important that you see the tiniest opportunities to make excuses and take them. I had to see Dude for something else that day anyway, so I left home regardless of my reservations.
When we finally met, Dude told me three other guys pulled out last minute, so, instead of six guys, we were now down to three. While we waited for the last guy with punctuality issues (let’s call him Nameless), I relentlessly tried to derail the whole plan without really appearing to do so and come off like a water sissy. My guy stuck out and said we could still salvage the rest of the day. We left for the pool when Nameless finally showed up (surprisingly without evident results of the make-up he must have been applying that kept him for almost an hour).
If it ever comes across your mind to want to fail at anything; you have to make up excuses as to why you don’t even want to try to do it at all and hope you don’t have an optimistic companion like Dude to derail your plans. You have to convince yourself that these reasons are genuine and not because you’re an unhinged masochist that hates himself. But if unfortunately, you have someone like Dude to derail your plans at this stage (like I did), then you can…
- Be Fazed by Others.
When we got to the pool, we met four guys already in the pool, swimming like electrified starfish and peeing in the pool, I assumed. After trying to make up more excuses to back out (ALWAYS make excuses if you really want to fail), I paid keen attention to those guys and marveled at how well they swam which convinced me I would need some of Harry Potter’s gillyweed supply to ever be able to swim. I let the performance of those guys convince me that I couldn’t possibly measure up.
To successfully fail, you should take a look at other people’s (perceived) success and convince yourself you can’t ever be good enough which makes trying pointless. It doesn’t matter that up close, those successful people are trying to be better themselves, like I later learnt that those guys couldn’t even really swim for shit; but you don’t have to bother yourself with inconvenient little details like that. If you absolutely want to fail, focus on the reasons why you will, nothing else matters.
- Refuse Help
We paid to spend a couple of hours in the pool and after a few minutes of back and forth awkwardness where we talked about nudity in the changing room, we got out into the pool. Of course I was the last person to get into the pool, and I only did so because it would be weird to be that guy sitting by the pool half-naked for a couple of hours without getting in the pool. So, instead, I became that guy that stood inside a swimming pool for a couple of hours. I literally stood in the pool and held on to the edges for a couple for hours, never at any time did I attempt to swim (betraying the ‘swimming’ in swimming pool). I just stood there and watched other people as they cautiously glanced at me trying to understand what my deal was. “Is that guy here to collect our pool urine?”, I could hear them think.
In the entire time that I oddly stood out in the pool, Dude and Nameless relentlessly offered to teach me how to swim; I turned them down every time. Even though I had a real shot at finally learning how to swim (because, well, because I was in the pool already), I refused to accept help. And even though Dude kept asking, “What if a tsunami happens and you have to swim to safety?”, I told him he’ll probably not get a chance to swim in a tsunami. Nameless also reassured me that I couldn’t possibly drown because I was too tall, but hey, I watched all the installments of Final Destination, logic is overrated.
Anytime anyone wants to give you a little nudge towards success, tell them to go buy a pet, because you’re no pet, and you know what you want; you want to fail. Why should they get in the way of that with their distressing message of optimism? If they shoot you with arrows of optimism, make the cross sign and hope they go away; my friends did.
- 4. Feed Your Fear
In the unlikely event that I’ve had you fooled up till this point, in which case you weren’t paying enough attention, the actual reason why I never wanted to be at the pool or try to learn to swim when I was, is simply because I’m terrified of water. I didn’t try to swim because I wasn’t too eager to drown. I fed my fears well enough to be absolutely convinced that I would drown if I even tried at all. I focused on that fatal risk, and it multiplied in my head so much that at the end of the day, I failed.
If you ever want to fail, it’s real simple: focus on your fears and feed them chicken wings; you’ll surely not fly high enough; you’ll fail. Thank me later.