I’ve finally decided to make a blog! If memory serves me correctly, I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for about the past ten years. It was around this time that I started keeping a journal, so writing a blog would be as simple as publishing a select few of my entries. However, every time I got close to creating my blog, I was intimidated by the fact that I’d have to update it frequently, as I didn’t want it to turn into one of the millions of abandoned blogs sprinkled throughout the internet – the kind that have two posts from the day that they were created, then nothing else. If my blog turned out like that, I would have deemed it a failure.
Then I realized that fear of failure is an absurd reason to prevent me from starting a blog. In fact, it’s an absurd reason to prevent me from doing anything.
If you’re pedantic like me, you’re probably yelling something along the lines of “Anything, you say? What about something that might kill you?” And you’re absolutely right; ‘anything’ is a slight exaggeration. Fear of failure when attempting to do a triple backflip off a skyscraper is a warranted human response that should be embraced, lest you wish to win a Darwin Award. But I think that within the realm of rational decisions that human beings make throughout their lives, the term ‘anything’ should suffice. If this upsets you, feel free to replace the word ‘anything’ with ‘anything that won’t cause significant harm to you or those around you’.
When I’m writing in my journal, it’s easy to project whatever thoughts come to mind. I’m not worried about being coherent, engaging my audience, employing proper grammar, or anything else along those lines; I know that the journal is only ever going to be read by me. However, when I began considering to publish some of my journal entires as blog posts, I suddenly had to make sure of all of these requirements were satisfied. In my mind, I would have failed in writing a post if I failed to satisfy even one of them. At the same time, I also felt that I needed to add content to my blog on a regular basis, resulting in failure if there was a dry spell in which no content was added to my blog. Further reflection resulted in me concluding that having a blog would be a daunting task.
The best way I’ve found to describe this feeling is paralysis. It happens when over-analysis of a situation results in hesitation, then inaction. I was paralyzed by all of the places where I could go wrong, and therefore I did nothing.
But hey! I’m writing a blog entry right now! Why is that? I’ve realized that allowing oneself to become paralyzed is also in itself a way to fail. No matter what action you’ve performed, you can always construct a failure condition that satisfies the results of the action.
For example, I’m currently in university. When I receive a grade of 60% in a course, I’ve technically succeeded; I’ve met the minimum requirements set out by the university, demonstrating that I have sufficient knowledge to receive credit for the course. I could just say “I’ve succeeded,” and be done with it. However, what if the average for the class was 80%? Then I could say that I’ve failed, since my demonstrated knowledge is inferior to many other classmates. What if I studied harder for that class than any other class in my university career, and expected to receive at a grade of at least 90%? Then I’ve failed again, because even when trying my best I could only achieve a paltry fraction of what I thought I was capable of. What if you just see receiving 60% as being 40% wrong, which means that you failed to answer a question correctly nearly half of the time?
So if failure is inevitable, what are we to do? The answer is in the question itself: simply ‘do’.
Even if you define the result of an action you completed as a failure, you can still learn from that experience. You can still enjoy that experience. You can still experience that experience. It’s important to remember that it isn’t about the end result of these actions, but instead the actions themselves. If you allow yourself to become paralyzed, you don’t get any of these things. The worst thing that you can do is nothing at all.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. Ironically, after making it this far into the post, I let the entry sit for the better part of a week without publishing it, performing precisely the action I advised against not one paragraph ago. For some reason, the post just didn’t seem finished to me. And now I’m discussing the fact that the post didn’t seem done to add the finishing touch. I suppose I should stop writing before the post degrades even further.
On that note, I’ll close by saying: Hello, world!