How to embrace mistakes without romanticizing failure

Read in full at the Creative Independent.

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In recent years, a lot of creative people have spoken out about failure. It has inspired TED talks, books, and podcasts, and its discussion has entered mainstream culture. In all of these conversations, however, we rarely acknowledge that people who gain a lot of attention for talking about failure are, by and large, successful. We listen to them precisely because they’ve already achieved some level of notoriety and good repute. Indeed, those who may be most “qualified” to discuss failure wouldn’t likely have a platform to do so.

Failure, by definition, is lacking success. Yet the word has transformed into a catch-all for “difficulty” and “setback,” from which an ultimate triumph must follow. In other words, when we talk about failure, we’re really talking about success, and how to get it. We celebrate taking risks and making mistakes, but don’t point enough at the uncomfortable truths that surround our longing for achievement. In addition, we seem to miss the point that having the luxury to make mistakes is a privilege.

During my career, I have started a number of projects (a podcast, a doodle series, a small book, a long-distance relationship) that have failed. I have also applied to jobs, conferences, and grants I haven’t received. I wouldn’t say such rejections make me a failure, but they have triggered insecurities and harsh self-criticism. In writing this guide, I hope to present a workbook of sorts, which may be useful in exploring our personal notions and histories of failure. Hopefully, it will help you avoid idealizing both struggles and successes, resist the constant search for external recognition, and create the groundwork for getting to better know your creative self, your needs, and what fits you best.

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Read in full at the Creative Independent and also check their awesome guides and interviews <3