Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Failure Bow

A couple weeks ago I attended a retreat for work that lasted several days. It opened with an evening full of icebreakers and teambuilding activities, led by a group of improv comedians. The very idea of this gave me anxiety - while I'm somewhat extroverted, I do best when I know what to expect and/or have a script. The word "script" does not exist in these improvers' vocabulary. The word "unexpected," however, does. I anticipated a great deal of embarrassment on my part.

One of the things they taught us was "The Failure Bow." While at first glance it seemed ludicrous, I actually embraced it. In short, it's this: when it's your turn to do something in a skit - an action, a line, whatever - and you fail at it - you can't think of anything to say, or whatever you do is really lame - you stand up in front of everyone, exclaim proudly, "I failed!" and then take a grand bow, all while everyone else claps and cheers wildly for you. The goal isn't to encourage failure. Rather, it's to celebrate risk-taking. And it's strangely liberating.

This is my failure bow. About a month ago, I wrote about how I was beginning to feel more okay with myself and who I am and where I am in my life. I decided to take a break from dating for a while and really just be with myself. And I did - for about a week. Then I went right back to meeting people and dating and throwing myself into interactions and doing pretty much exactly what I had been doing the previous 9 years, 10 months, and 2 weeks of this decade called "my twenties."

I failed!

I could feel sort of shitty about this failure, but I'm not sure that would get me anywhere useful. I think it's far more useful to acknowledge that I took a risk - I tried being alone, albeit for a brief time - and in that vulnerable space where I was doing something new and different and uncomfortable for me, I experienced a failure.

I failed!

And now I'm trying again. And that, in itself, is a kind of success. The goal this time is do a little better, and get a little closer to where I'm supposed to be, wherever that may be.


Unknown said...
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Caroline said...

Yay you! I don't know many ppl who ever succeed at something scary their first time around (the few I do know, I secretly despise ;) ) but I know even fewer who admit to failing and declare another attempt, and I proudly <3 them! xo

B said...

we're in the same boat. relationship of seven years ended abruptly in mid-july, i turned 30 in mid-august. said i was going to learn to be with myself and all that dumb liz gilbert bs, but then found myself running into the arms of someone else. of course, that was only good for a few weeks, so it's back to me, myself, and i. and i'm going to try really hard to make that last. good luck to you!

Julie said...

THIS is what I'm talking about. I have to fail to learn.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett

Take your bows, babe.

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