Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I'm going to follow up my last post by responding to two of yesterday's comments...

Katie asked: Who cares about trying out for So You Think You Can Dance unless you truly love dancing? Do you? I'm not sure I see why the question annoyed you so much. Why would you waste time trying out for So You Think You Can Dance if you don't care about it? Or buying lottery tickets unless you are super passionate about money.

I do, in fact, truly love dancing. There was a time in my life where I was taking 3 dance classes a day and was performing regularly, and it made me incredibly happy. Then I sprained my ankle. And got a job. And sprained my other ankle. Then the first one again. And went to law school. And now I'm squishy and my body won't/can't do anything near what it used to do, and it breaks my heart that I can't access dance the way I used to. I now avoid ballet classes because the memory of what I once had actually ruins my ability to enjoy what remains. And so, when I'm in a rotten depressed mood, this kind of question annoys me because if I was guaranteed to succeed (i.e. be able to somehow pay the bills with dance, or at least cover the childcare costs during my studio time), yes, I would absolutely devote a large part of my life to dance. But I won't succeed. And there's only so much time I have in any given day, so I have to give up something that makes me joyous in order to pursue other things that I might actually succeed in.

From this perspective, the question isn't an inspiration or source of hope. It's a reminder of the inevitability of failure for certain aspirations. It's Lucy pulling the football away before Charlie Brown can kick it. Follow your dreams, sucker.

And as for the lottery... well, if I won that money, THEN I COULD AFFORD TO DANCE BADLY. Or write full-time. Or whatever, but I could then be able to pursue happiness without balancing my joy against my real-life obligations. Again, when I'm in a foul mood, it appears that the question is offering a pipe dream.

Tabitha said (excerpts): Sorry you found the quote annoying. Pretty sure it was my blog that posted it... I guess my point was that we sometimes live in boxes limited by fear of failure. And sometimes if you can remove that fear you might step outside the box for just long enough to actually embrace the things you really want in this life.

The quote wasn't meant to manipulate or make anyone feel bad. I just posted on it cause I know how amazing it was for to to say, "wow, yeah there is something else I want to be doing and I am letting my fear stop me." Writing is not the only thing that many of us dream of doing. It isn't even the biggest thing that some of us dream of doing. But whatever the dreams, fear of failure is a massive stumbling block.

And I think you can say that you have not failed in something if you view success as the ATTEMPT, the brave choice to chase the dream in the first place. At least you can say you tried. At least that will be one less, "What if?" question that you have to live with. I think that spells success.

Yes, I think it was you. And I'm sorry that you felt the need to explain the spirit in which you posted the quote. I know why you posted it. Even when I am smack dab in the middle of taking the quote the wrong way, I know that this is due to my own issues, not the quote itself. And I had thought that the last sentences of my post made that clear... but apparently not. (S'okay. These things happen.)

Here's the deal. About a year ago, I was letting fear seriously hold me back from doing some non-writing things I really wanted to do. I started to stagnate. (Post-partum issues certainly didn't help, either, but that's not really the point.) But my awesome husband kicked me in the butt and got me going again...

And man, oh, man, I've had just failure after failure. And it's not like, Wow, this was all so much scarier in my own head, but it turns out I was worked up over nothing! Even though I'm not succeeding yet, I feel so much better knowing that I'm chasing my dream! Nope. It's more like, Hey, another kick in the head. This is way worse than I imagined. Why did I come out of my cave again? This makes me, shall we say, CRANKY.

This is my baggage. I know this.

And that's why I am now grabbing that quote in a positive way and applying it to one new thing. Something I haven't tried yet. Something... well, the idea of succeeding at this kinda gives me butterflies. Which, I figure, means that it's something worth reaching for. Something worth abandoning fear and distrust for, even if the football DOES get yanked out at the last minute.

As I said yesterday, it's a process. It's not about trying just one thing, or just trying once.

And as I also said yesterday, we're all in this together. I don't mean writing. I mean the fact that I am surely not the only qualified-yet-unemployed attorney out there. Or the only person juggling motherhood AND ______. Hell, I'm surely not the only person who chipped a tooth and had to schedule dental work last week. I am, in fact, pretty damn fortunate.

Look, a little cynicism is okay. It provides that much-needed dose of reality (hi, WendyCinNYC!), that sense of balance (hi, Melissa!), that drive to compete (hi, Shelby!), and also often provides a much-needed laugh (yes, Falen, we will BOTH take our new-found infallibility and leap off a tall building and fly!). But right now my cynicism is coming dangerously close to ingratitude. And that sh*t has got to stop. Which is why I said it's time to woman-up.

I mean, we'd all rather be Charlie Brown than Lucy, right? She's a jerk. And as Andrew summarized, if we don't try anything, we've already lost.

There is a nobility in trying.

Plus, he's got that awesome dog.

I'll be taking Thursday and Friday off from blogging this week, but come on back tomorrow for the ever-so-timely Giving of Thanks post...


  1. I understand both aspects of the question. The annoyance and the reason for posing it in the first place. I'd totally be the next American Idol if I didn't fear failure.

    But let me tell you as someone who spent a year failing miserably myself and ending up in a very darky and twisty place, it's not worth the fear.

    Failure makes us better, not worse. Failure causes us to strive to do better. I learned an emense amount from my failures and am a MUCH better person for it.

    So I say try! Fail miserably, then try again!!! I bet you won't fail so much the second time, if at all. It's all on how you view it ... Said the pot calling the kettle black ;)

  2. Enjoy tour time-off! I enjoyed the timely intro to the GOT post, 'cause don't we all have those sulky, venting times? We all gotta get it out so we can move on.

  3. Glad to hear you have tossed fear out the window. There are so many challenges that befall us as people, but thanks to God we have Him and one another to pick us up and dust us off.

    Keep doing all the things that burn inside. I firmly believe that God makes room for all of our gifts. In due season you will reap if you faint not!

  4. Good follow up. Hehe. I think that quote will always stick in my brain now, and will surface at both the right times and the wrong times.

    When I want a quote to rail against, I'll use it. When I want it to inspire me, I'll look at it differently. Either way I get a little bit of satisfaction out of it, right? :)

  5. Fear is one of those dark shadows that lingers close behind but you can never really get a good look at. I'm sure if we did, we'd be a lot less afraid. OXOX

  6. Hey, I gave you an award over at my blog. :D
    Enjoy! And thanks for some wonderful posts.


  7. I missed the earlier posts, but I can relate to your passion for dance. It's heartbreaking when our bodies or other circumstances rip out our dreams.

    I dreamt of dancing my entire life. I took a few classes as a child, but never really got to enjoy it fully until I was in high school and on the pom-pon squad. Boy, I miss dancing.

    A few years ago, I joined an adult jazz class. The class lasted two years, and we were all nervous Nelly's, but it gave me back something priceless: the feeling that it wasn't over because I have kids and I'm older and frankly, never going to be very good. I love dancing and hope to join another class in the future.

    I know this has nothing to do with writing or the quote, but it's not very often I find someone else passionate about dance!

  8. Thank you, Reesha!

    Jill, I recently took an Introduction to Irish Dance class, because I'd never taken it before, and therefore I couldn't be haunted by how much better at it I used to be, and it was SO much fun. I wish they taught an intermediate class...

  9. Understand your points. Didn't know you liked dance. Thought it was just a random thing you put in your post. Thanks for clarifying.

    Just because we can't make a living off dance (or writing or fill in whatever we want in the blank) doesn't mean we can't still find time to do it. At least to some degree.

    I guess I just saw the question as the opportunity to explore what it is we love and to ask ourselves why we're not doing it. If we love dance or singing or writing or painting or whatever else, why don't we do it more? To me, that was the point of the question.

    And I'd also like to echo Marybeth's post. Touche!

  10. A public speaking teacher of mine once said "Don't every apologize for something you've said. If you said it, that means you meant it." I struggled with that comment for a long time, because I'm a people pleaser. I like to make sure I don't step on toes and try to take what I say very seriously if I offend someone. I think your view of that quote was fine, though it might not resonate with everyone else (it did with me) I still think it was fine. I understood what you meant and I understood what the OP (original poster) of the quote meant.

    That said, I really enjoy watching people explain themselves LOL (including myself)

  11. of course.. the aweseome dog. :)

    great post!

  12. I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, but I think I've finally figured out what about the quote bothers me if taken too literally. On the one hand, I think it's a suggestion to really look at what you want and recognize the fear of failure. In that context, it can be seen as inspiring.

    On the other hand, I thrive on challenge. Without challenge, life is boring. I don't tend to do things that are easy -- if they are easy, anyone else can do it. Give me the challenge! That's what sends the stomach tumbling and the heart pounding, that's what makes me feel alive. The chance of failure means you have to want something bad enough to try it; it's not worth doing otherwise.

    I've often heard the saying, "Anything worth doing is hard." I think that's more my inspiration...and since I too am close to embarking on the biggest, scariest challenge of my life (pause as my heart pounds just thinking about it) I think it's worth the risk.

    Great post, great follow up, great comments, great discussion. As always. Thanks for getting the mind juices flowing, Carrie!

  13. I'm so glad you took the Irish Dance class. It looks tough--all those quick steps. My thighs can already feel the burn!

    I've been trying out a few dance DVD's. They're fun because I can try new moves.

    Keep finding ways to bring dance into your life.