I am not, in any external or commercial sense, a successful person. I am not a beauty queen, a math whiz, a super athlete, a great singer or any other Breakfast Club stereotype. I do not overwhelm people with my cult of personality or charisma. I’m an average student, a laissez-faire gardener and an inconsistent parent. I am, by all accounts and appearances, average.
In spite of all this mediocrity, I have a super power. I lose well. I lose repeatedly. And then I get up to lose again. The power of being average, of being a little strange under the surface, of never having success handed to you, is that you can be outrageously happy doing whatever loser thing you are doing. I don’t know if it is the tantalizing seduction of a mere possibility of success or if it’s simply doing something, that in that very moment, gives delight.
Whenever the resolution chatter rolls around at the beginning of each new year, I begin to think about intentions. I realized that the overwhelming theme of the upcoming year for me will be failure. Everything I intend on doing this year is unlikely to be a success. This is not false modesty. I’ve picked some projects that have the odds against them. There will be tremendous amounts of effort with slim chance of a jackpot at the end of the rainbow. I don’t find this notion depressing. I’m going to be doing some scary things this year and I think it will be awesome.
Readers of this blog know that I’m an aspiring writer. I’ve finished one draft of a novel and am bouncing around between a 2nd novel and short stories. Work must soon equal some money, so now I have to run the wannabe published author gauntlet. While I’m chipping away at that work, I will be taking a run at my other fantasy job. It does not involve a pole, but it is fraught with huge amounts of humiliating failure all the same. I am attempting to perform stand up comedy this year. It should be quite horrible and devastating. And I’m looking forward to it.
Each time I resolve to do something I’m terrified of, I feel just a little bit stronger, a little more fearless, a little more free from the constraints in my head that whisper “you can’t do that”. I’m not funny under pressure. In fact, I’m terrified when speaking to a crowd. I’ve done some improv classes and comedy sketch writing workshops, but aside from listening to comedians most of my life, I have little in my experience to suggest I’d be funny.
But here’s the deal – I don’t want regrets. I don’t want to dance with the “what ifs” the rest of my life. I want to be excited and energized and engaged, even if it means I’m two steps from throwing up on myself from nauseating anxiety. I’m okay with losing. I’m not okay with not trying, not challenging myself, not learning new things. Fear is a fantastic antidote to complacency.
Amid all your good intent and resolutions, put something on that list that scares you just a little. It might seem tiny to the outside world. It may be insignificant compared to the grandiose accomplishments they give out prizes and paparazzi for, but if it takes the edge off the repetition of daily living, inspires and excites you, makes you breathe a little deeper, opens your world a little more, it will help to make you be a more successful human being. And that’s a resolution that can last year round.