I have an embarrassing story to tell you.
The other day, I auditioned for a musical performance with a local theater company. I’m a decent singer and actor, so I figured I had a shot. Unfortunately, the show involved tap dancing, which I’d never attempted. Truthfully, I’m not a great dancer, but I gave it a try.
It was, simply put, an unequivocal disaster.
That tap audition reminded me of some very vivid and terrifying dreams from my past, in which I’m standing on an empty stage while an audience stares at me in silence, and I can’t remember any of my lines or even the name of my character. I made a fool of myself in front of a roomful of people, surrounded by mirrors, wearing the wrong shoes.
You don’t want to face the reality that you might fail. I know. Neither do I.
You don’t want to face the reality that you might fail.
I’ll admit that failure does feel pretty awful … for a little while. After that, you laugh.
Let’s take a brief look at my biggest mistakes: blowing things out of proportion. Getting way too worked up about small issues. Letting my emotions run amuck. Delaying out of fear and indecision. Speaking hastily; saying too much; snapping at someone who doesn’t deserve it; flinging cruel words at the people I love — I’ve done these and more.
Would I list my recent tap audition among those failures? No, probably not. In my experience, many of my most shameful mistakes occur because I dread some supposedly worse outcome. Ironically, my resistance to failure often becomes my greatest sin.
“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”
She greeted me, a nervous stranger, during the preview weekend for Colorado Christian University, before I became an official student. Her question made me uncomfortable.
“Um … I don’t know. Write a book, I guess.”
“So why don’t you write a book?”
“Um … I don’t know. It probably wouldn’t be any good.”
There it was: the fear. I didn’t want to begin because I might mess up.
You will mess up. I wish that you and I could take a deep breath together, accept the inevitable mistakes that await us in the future, grieve for a moment, and then relax. You won’t gain anything by avoiding failure, but you could miss out on a lot of joy. Maybe you should ask yourself which would bother you more: messing up or missing out.
I’d hazard a guess that messing up won’t hurt as much as you think it will. Either way, since no one can avoid mistakes altogether, you might as well give yourself a break. That tap audition bruised my ego, sure, but my life didn’t end. Honestly, it’s empowering to discover that I can handle a little bit of failure. Plus, now I have an uncomfortably amusing anecdote to share.
The Reluctant Bride