Rule Number One on Discussing Failure

Include an expert on the topic in the actual discussion.

Fail, failure, and failing are words that naturally cause my ears to perk up given that was heretofore the general theme of my academic career. I don’t know if I should call myself an expert in the field, but given my experience I do feel very comfortable saying it.

I especially feel comfortable because etymologically experience and expertise share a common root precisely because expertise is most often reached as a result of accumulative experiences.

A List of 30 of Failings from My 30 Years

  1. I failed at being born in a straightforward manner, managing to get stuck with my arm sticking out beside my head so that the doctor had to pull me out and my first-ever baby picture had that same arm in a splint.
  2. I failed to keep a freezer-as-gift a secret.
  3. I failed to yell “Wait!” or generally inform my father that I had used a stool to reach the lock on the door that time we were locked out and he put me through the kitchen window to let us in.
  4. I failed to properly communicate the urgency with which I needed the bathroom before I went to sit down to hold in my pee as long possible
  5. which lead to failing to hear the bathroom door open so I could make a run for it
  6. which lead to failing to not get green dye from my Christmas dress well-soaked into the light pink chairs in the living room.
  7. I failed to run away Thousandfurs-style on East 5th Street.
  8. I failed to turn in a poster on dental hygiene.
  9. I failed to learn anything about time management or project management (except do things in the right order) in grade school.
  10. I failed to avoid repeating all the mistakes.
  11. I failed at listening to every instinct except one.
  12. I failed to run away from Mountain View with my snack-filled Wishbone backpack.
  13. I failed my first quarter period of a class for the year in the 4th grade
  14. which lead to failing to convincingly forge my father’s signature on my report card.
  15. I failed to communicate my needs to my parents and teachers.
  16. I failed to see why I was so seemingly different.
  17. I failed time and again to see my own goodness.
  18. I failed to see a reason for me to keep living.
  19. I failed to kill myself.
  20. I failed English my freshman year of high school.
  21. I failed to communicate how needing a study period in the school day does not translate into my not working hard enough.
  22. I failed multiple courses throughout my undergraduate career.
  23. I failed to graduate with a degree in acting/theatre.
  24. I failed to graduate with a degree in English.
  25. I failed to graduate with a degree in education.
  26. I failed to graduate with a humanities minor/concentration.
  27. I failed to get into graduate school the first time I applied.
  28. I failed to get into AS220 the first two times I applied.
  29. I failed to hold down jobs.
  30. I failed to keep my house in order.

All this is to say that if you are anywhere near me and having a conversation about failure? I want in.

Because failure is where learning happens.

Go ahead. Pick a number, any number. I’ll tell you exactly what I learned.

Also published on Medium.