Embracing Failure: What Happens When You Leap and the Net Doesn’t Catch You?

Have you ever considered before, what would you do if you could not fail? Probably, and at the very least you’ve heard that idea proposed before. You might have an answer, or a few, but honestly, that’s a pretty loaded question. I don’t know about you, but shit, I’d do literally everything. Spend a year sailing a boat around the world with nothing going wrong? Done. Become an Olympic athlete, sure why not? Write a novel that will certainly become best-selling because, you know, that whole can’t fail thing. I would do it all. Think about it, the world is your oyster and your dreams are the pearl. But once I tackled that question, it began to morph into an even more deeply existential one with the help of one of my new favorite pastimes: podcasts.

“What’s worth doing, even if I fail?”
-Brené Brown

With complete certainty, we will all fail at some of the things we put our best efforts towards in life. In our ventures to become our most fulfilled and actualized selves, trial and error is the most used tool in our belts. You will find the courage to try new things and yet still, you will be met with disappointment because your efforts did not materialize. Such is life. However, after hearing this quote by Brené Brown on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast (WHICH YES, I’M VERY ANNOYED I DISCOVERED AFTER I WROTE A POST ABOUT MY FAVORITE PODCASTS BECAUSE IT’S A FUCKING TREASURE) I’ve done myself the liberty of obsessively mulling it over to the point of countless caffeine driven headaches. “What’s worth doing, even if I fail?”

Failure isn’t anyones favorite option, in fact, it’s usually everybody’s least. But it would be foolish to ignore its stark probability in our lives. And so I ask myself, what is worth doing with my life, even if there is an incredibly high probability that despite my fervor for success, I’ll still fail?


Those of us who are into personal development and self-help literature are probably very familiar with idea of leaping into the deep, dark, petrifying abyss of our creative dreams. Usually, amping ourselves up to take that leap that’s the hardest part. And then there’s that smug, entitled part of us every one of us that almost expects to be rewarded for taking that initial jump into the unknown. And yet even with our hearts full of creativity, longing and passion, we are still met with failure. We leapt, and the net didn’t catch us. And we’re left on the ground, shattered and lost as to where to go from here. But what if hitting the net, or the ground, was never the point at all?

When we free ourselves from the idea that we’re too good to fail, or that failure is the ultimate destruction of our dreams, we open ourselves up to the extraordinary possibilities of the things that can come out of just simply trying to achieve our goals. It’s not about the net, it’s not about the accolades, the money, or the success. It’s all about the fall and how you choose to let it cultivate you. Once you accept and embrace failure as a necessary part of your journey, it stops being so God damn scary. Once you stop thinking of your life goals as always being linear, you start to embrace your journey for what it actually is: an incomparpable process we all have to navigate as individuals.

Every decision and risk you take that you feel is right for you at the time is the best you can do at being true to yourself and your goals. So what if it doesn’t work out? Would you rather live your whole life in the shadows of what your life could’ve been if if only you had the courage? Or would you rather give it the ol’ college try despite the way it turns out in the end? I’m choosing the latter.

Learn to embrace the failures. The only true failures are the ones you didn’t learn a damn thing from.


So, what is that thing that keeps you up at night that you’re too afraid to try? What would be that one thing worth doing that even if you failed miserably at it, you went for it anyway? What are those several things worth doing despite the outcome? Sit with that for as long as you need, and once you figure it out if you already haven’t, decide to forgo the net from the equation. It’s not about the net, it’s about the journey your soul takes on the way. 

I have to say, I’ve never been so excited to fail.



3 thoughts on “Embracing Failure: What Happens When You Leap and the Net Doesn’t Catch You?

  1. Nicely said Jeanine! As I was reading the first half and thinking what I was going to say in the end, you ended up saying. It’s the journey, the process, whatever you want to call it. You are learning a long the way, the end point itself isn’t a learning opportunity at all, it’s just a feeling. Disappointment or joy. Either way, if you do care about improving as a human you’re going to reflect in either case and think what you did or didn’t do that led to the success, or what you did or didn’t do that led to failure. You’re analyzing the journey, and that’s the meat of life. I read an article a while back that said taking risks is always the best strategy in life, because it is the only way you grow. And I believe that wholeheartedly. The article argued that every time you take a risk you are learning something more about yourself. Even if the risk tells you what you don’t want, what isn’t making you happy, what isn’t the best career for you, all that information helps you zero in each time on a better life for you. But we are also creatures who seek safety and comfort, and there is no doubt that this has also served as well as a species over our evolution. Safe is alive, safe, makes sure we reproduce and keep our children alive. I feel the battle between safety and risk is the central conflict in humans and how we navigate that balance is very important, it’s where true wisdom is found. Because there are times that one absolutely needs to batten down the hatches, and there are other times that one absolutely should take risks. I think extremes in either direction can be dangerous, but overall I think the truth is, we are never really safe even when we think we are playing that way so it’s best to at least have that spirit of risk taking in us, because every person will have their moment where they have to lay it on the line.

    I was also thinking in your original question of never being able to fail…this is sort of what like growing up really rich must be like, and probably the fact that many of them lack real empathy and are rather dysfunctional in society at large, we should be thankful that we don’t live lives where we can never fail. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s such a great point, that we are never really safe anyway so why not just at least attempt to do the things that we think will fulfill us even if they don’t work out? There is definitely a fine line between reckless behavior and taking risks, just like there is between being safe and hiding under a blanket for the rest of your life. It doesn’t serve anyone to worry about the future unnecessarily, a friend recently asked me if I was worried about something that was going to happen and my response was “I could literally leave here right now and get crushed by a tractor trailer, we don’t have any idea what’s going to happen with anything so I’m not gonna stress about it.” We all just have to do our best to get by!
      I also like how you brought up fear being a big part of what holds us back from taking risks. Recently especially the more I look into personal development material I’ve found it so fascinating how this ancient biological response can shape so much of what we do in our daily lives that isn’t actually in anyway life threatening. I had a conversation a long time ago with someone who told me the reason why we freak out if something touches us or falls on us (I always assume it’s a bug or something LOL) and we don’t know what it is, is even if 99% of the time it’s something harmless like a leaf it’s more advantageous biologically for the brain to register it as being something alive first and then we register that it’s actually not harmful. This fear really does show up in so many ways and it’s something we really all have to figure out how to lifehack for ourselves!
      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with you Jeanine. Evolutionary psychology is a fascinating field to me and it’s interesting how our brains are still wired to that hunter-gatherer thinking because of course brains change on an evolutionary time scale, but the advancement of our knowledge and technology has accelerated past what our brains are made for. After I wrote this comment I was watching a video a friend posted about having regrets and no living out our dreams. Of course in western society we hear a lot about this, and I guess I think it’s also important to note that I think taking risks is also a function of our environment. For instance those in the world who are living in great poverty or under the thumb of strong oppression simply don’t have the same ability as you and I in taking risks. So while there are a great amount of people holding themselves back, for many others it is their environment holding them back from living out their dreams. In fact psychological studies on brain development show that when you are raised in poverty you tend to not be able get yourself out of the mindset of short term thinking and don’t plan for the future and set lofty goals, because mostly you are just trying to survive. So we also must remember to try and raise other people up so that they have the same opportunities. 🙂


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