nic fouts

the many sides

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
–Stevie Wonder

Of all things, today’s cafeteria menu dug up an old memory.  The memory of the first time I can remember failing.  It’s a moment that the adults around me didn’t understand and I never corrected them.  I’ve actually never told ANYONE about this.  Twenty-seven years later, that memory popped into my head during a time of my life when I need reminded that failure isn’t always bad.  So what does a five-year-old fail at?

I couldn’t eat an onion.

Some context is probably necessary.  I knew for a while before this that I didn’t like onions.  I don’t know how many I tried or when, but I KNEW I didn’t like onions.  One day, in Kindergarten for lunch we had a side of green beans (or something like that) and pearl onions.  I sat there by myself, as I always did, and ate everything else that looked good.  Then I stared at these little round white balls.  I told myself I had to eat one of them.  This was to be my way of showing myself that I could do anything.  I stabbed one with my fork and held it in front of my face.  I remember a few tries at putting it in my mouth, but every attempt ended with my hand deciding that it just belonged on the plate.  After a few minutes of this I began to cry.  A teacher saw my breakdown and took me aside.  The teachers knew that my parents were out of town for a few weeks and assumed that I just missed them.  I don’t remember the exact chain of events after that, but I ended up in the front office and my grandmother eventually came.  After that, the rest of that day is gone.  Nobody knew what was really wrong except for me.

I still have no idea why I pushed myself that day.  I guess even a completely internal failure has repercussions.  I think that fateful day set the tone for many years to come.  It’s likely the reason I’m so afraid of failure.  When you’re afraid of failure, there are two outcomes.  You either decide that failure isn’t an option and push harder or you calculate what your failure odds are and don’t try if they’re low.  The next few years were a mixture of these two philosophies, with a heavy skew toward calculations.

The last six to twelve months have dealt with themes of failure more than I would like.  But the mere fact that these chances for failure existed means that I’ve let go of my calculations and have started just existing.  I’ve been hurt in the process, but without that risk you can’t hope to get the reward.  If you never try, you can’t succeed.  “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

Faced with this deep dark memory, I stabbed one of those little Shrek bundles today at lunch and stared it down.  I saw that little white orb as the embodiment of my childhood failures, just staring me in the face.  I finally got a rematch and this time I could defeat that monster.  But just one… those things are nasty.

March 28th, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | no comments