This is a post I would never have thought about 2 years ago, but here I am writing about what failure is and what it shouldn’t be and I too cant wait to see how it unfolds.
A month ago, I told this person that I am beginning to think should be a Godsend about my love for poetry. This was after he did a deep search about me and unearthed some pieces I had written on the blog back in 2014. Reading through them made my heart rend—in a good way.
He has been very vocal about the fact that I am procrastinating the process of getting the book published (this I will tell you about another time), and honestly, maybe I am. So 4 days ago, him and I were having a conversation that stemed from whether i had considered doing spoken word poetry because the kind that I write needs to be heard, felt and listened to. I told him, I once was a spoken word poet. He asked “Why did you stop?” same way I want to ask you about why you stopped writing, creating, innovating, singing, taking the lesson, driving, laughing, posting, producing, traveling, dancing etc etc
All through high-school, I hated when the audience boo-ed people that they found uninteresting during a stage performance, class presentation or anywhere a person had to show their skill/talent. The people that boo-ed had come to the conclusion that whatever this person was doing was either half-baked, could not match up to the challenge, or was just dead-bit boring. Fortunately for me, I was always on the other side— being ululated and clapped for, being congratulated for being an incredible orator, dancer, storyteller, you name it. Never had it dawned on me, that once I would stand before a crowd and the fate of the boo-ed would catch up with me.
I joined varsity and immediately started attending evenings that were laced with poetry. Once in a while, I would poetize. People liked it– men especially, judging from the number of free drinks that would come my way, the ladies smiled and nodded their heads at me whenever we crossed paths. For a 1st year, I had made the cut, I was on my way to being Maya Angelou soon. It wasn’t until 8 of us from among those that used to meet at the Red House in Kyambogo were selected for a bigger event that would happen at the theater.
I prepared 3 poems that were joined by musical bridges —So for this performance, I hoped to sing too. I was confident with my flow, the rhythm was overt, and my heart and mind looked forward to a standing ovation. I got onto the dark stage whose curtains were still drawn and I could swear a bucket of water had been poured into my hands, my heart felt like hulk’s thunderous footstep, my stomach was churning and the hair on my head seemed to have taken leave. I heard the Emcee introduce me, he mentioned something about my eyes and the clarity that my voice carried. Soon people were clapping and the curtains were parted. The light from the balcony (if you know the theater too well) came full flash on me, and it was my moment.
I was shaking, it was visible. My throat dried up. 2 minutes into my time and I heard a person boooo… I opened my mouth and said the first line and second line– That was all I could remember. I repeated those stanzas twice hoping I would remember the stanzas that followed, but I didn’t and the audience got furious—some asking in Luganda dialect “where the organizers had gotten me from”, some saying I should “get off stage”, the booos increased and like a chef that lost the grand prize for failing to prepare his signature meal, I walked out—cried the night out, and cursed ever accepting to go for the event. I stopped– stopped doing spoken word poetry, stopped visiting the red house, I stopped.
5 years down the road, and every-time anyone suggests I do spoken word, that memory plays out, making my heart clench very uncomfortably. Subconsciously, I marked that as failure and that explains why my entire system reacts the way it does. The fear of failure watermarks itself in our (sub) conscious realities that we tend to be more aware of doom and when it is coming.
Every single day we have people walking out of the door to their dreams because of the fear of failure. We seem to recount the moments we have failed to breakthrough more than the lessons that we should pick from the experience. If you ask me, it is hurtful to fail. It is also more embarrassing if you have an audience– random people, family members, friends, who say they believe in you until you portray weakness, or don’t meet their standard.
So why did you stop?
- Was it because you tried over and over again and still found yourself in the same place?
- Was it because you felt unappreciated?
- Was it because the journey got lonely?
- Did you stop because the road seemed dry and unfruitful?
- Was it the pressure about time, age? Was it the overwhelming responsibilities?
- Was it because your mentor or curator said it wouldn’t work?
Not that I came here to question your decision to give up certain dreams, goals and habits (and I am not defending the toxic habits that take you down the drain, I mean the habits that polish, grow, and make you a better man or woman), I came to blatantly tell you that letting go speaks of cowardice and weak contention in following after our dreams and seeing them grow.
I have chatted and even followed different innovators’ accounts, and after they have sobered from sharing tips, pros and cons, majority like to say “It is never easy. There are days you are going to want to give up everything, start afresh and follow a different trail- but the longer the endurance, the sharper we become”.
Failure should never define you, neither should it ever stop you from high flying towards your goals. Delays will always present themselves, however how we handle them gives us a better perspective on life, and who we are.
I am personally working on a spoken word project—I haven’t told anyone yet, but now you know and honestly, I hope that I will have the courage once again to stand before even bigger audiences and spill my heart through language, and cry because the work was appreciated. As far as I know, this is also another poem, another short story, another sad day, and maybe we need to treat failure that way too. Just a bad 24 hours, and once they are finished, we try again and give it our best shot.
P.S— If you constantly find yourself at the same place with the same result, perhaps you need to change formulae. Recently from a Rabbi, I learned that formulae leads you to the same result, so if something fails, dont entirely ditch the whole idea, get a new formulae, invest the same energy and much greater attitude and see yourself flourish.
Thank you for taking the time to read. I would like to hear what you plan to resurrect. No one is holding you back but you.. So go ahead and let go of any fear and worries.