Monday, July 8, 2013

When You Fail

So here's an /uplifting/ post about failing at a project.

A while back, my sister and I had brainstormed a costume idea for a convention that we have previously attended. I was attempting to make the costume, on short time. I hit a snag, and it really made me frustrated. This wasn't supposed to happen. I was supposed to work like crazy for a week and right up to the last minute and then have a costume of better quality than a lot of people do at these events, because I'm a perfectionist like that.

Part of the problem was definitely the pattern I was using, and part of the problem was the way I attempted to fix the problem with the pattern. In the end, I ended up with a beautifully sewn, unlined, unhemmed, and too small jacket that I couldn't stand to look at, that had taken up *all* of the time I had allotted for the costume.

I texted my sister to let her know there was no way it was happening, and she texted back that it was raining and crappy out and that it was okay, but it didn't feel okay. It felt like failure. It sucked.

Now, there are tons of conventions that I could take this costume to, when I finally get around to revisiting the idea. And I do plan on revisiting it, and maybe taking a different approach (or at least finding a much better jacket pattern).

But it was that feeling in the moment - when I had put every single ounce of energy and brainpower into figuring out this pattern, and the evening was growing late - when I realized there wasn't a chance in hell of this being done on time... that feeling is, I think, one of the worst feelings an artist can feel. When you realize that no matter how many hours you put in, this particular project is not going to work without you chopping off body parts. It makes you question why you thought you could do it in the first place, in spite of the fact that there was no way you could know which challenges you would face. It makes you doubt yourself, which is a shitty place to be when you aren't feeling that great about yourself in the first place.

I'm over it now, but I know in that moment it felt like the world was ending. And sometimes I wonder if other people have moments like this, and sometimes I know they do, because they talk about it or blog about it or share their world-ending moments in some way. And I guess this is me saying, "Hey, you, sitting in a blubbery mess wondering where it all went wrong and looking for a way to drown your sorrows - I've been there. It sucks. I know. I know nothing in the moment can make it feel any less like you are a complete failure. But it's just one project, and someday you'll be able to look back and learn the tiniest thing from the experience, even if it's only not to trust a particular pattern. And if you try again, which you should, you will do better. Even if you fail again, it will be a slightly less horrible failure. Failure is how we learn. It's a horrible way to learn a lesson, but it works. Go ahead, cry, rage, whatever it takes. Don't do anything too stupid. Get through all the feelings and when you are ready to talk about it, do. It'll be okay, in the end."

Here's hoping I can remember this the next time I epic fail at something.

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