When did we stop being OK with failing?


At the beautiful Paraparaumu beach in New Zealand, I am watching a skim boarder. Reminds me of being a kid and watching my brother learn how to skim board. He would catch the board, ride for a while, fall down, roll over in the sand and PopUp ready go again. Over and over again. Ride, fall down, PopUp. I don’t think it ever occured to him that those falls were actually failings. He certainly didn’t seem bothered by them.

I think of all the things we learned as kids. Even the experience we all had learning how to walk. We fell down over and over and over again but it didn’t seem to bother us. Precisely when did we start seeing those fallings as failings? What was the exact moment we started to put such a heavy toll on failing? I’d love to go back and change that very moment. I’d love to learn like a kid.

I have been learning a lot of new things lately and I notice the desire in me to “look good” and “get it right” the very first time. Even though I know that F.A.I.L. just means First Attempt In Learning, the deep impulse in me is to hide it or beat myself up when I fall down a bit. This happens over and over again as I’m learning something new.

When was the moment that I started to prize looks over learning? I timetravel to that precise moment and tell my young woman self that a different story can be written. That it is possible, and more joyful, to prize learning over looks.

Lyssa Adkins