5 Reasons Why it’s Important to Fail

Recently, I had a discussion with a woman about the notion of failure. She said that she once attended a women’s workshop and one of the topics for conversation was failure, the key question being, “If you knew you could ‘never fail’ what would you do?” This question (and most questions like this) says something to me.  Is it the actual event that constitutes failure, or rather is failure related to feelings of rejection associated with not reaching a specific goal? Likely both of these problems work in tandem with one another to create a pretty big anxiety cocktail.

Writer Francesca Lia Block, recently wrote a blog entry to discuss her fear of rejection, particularly with respect to the rising popularity of the Internet.

One of the hardest things about being an artist is putting your soul on the line to be scrutinized and criticized. When I began my career this felt a little less risky than it does today; with the wonder of the Internet, came a lot more vulnerability for the artist. My parents taught me to express myself without censorship or judgment and this philosophy carried me through for many years.

She goes on to encourage her writing students to become fearless–fear of failure should never be a barrier.

What people, especially women (as we tend to be VERY hard on ourselves), *fail* (pun intended) to think about is that failure is as subjective as success. Also, without failure, how can there be success? Kinda like, without some perceived bad in the world, how can we allot other events/experiences as being good?! Now I’m not attempting to get too deeply philosophical but it’s food for thought.

Failure, whether perceived or not, should never prevent one from going out for his/her dreams. Ever. In fact, without failure success likely will remain out in the ether as an unachievable thing. Trust me, and here’s why:

Failure is Integral for Growth

Time and time again entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and motivational speakers discuss they were once looked upon as useless. Some of these people include the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Vera Wang and even Albert Einstein. After a mistake or a failure there’s opportunity for reflection on what went wrong and other methodologies to consider for the future. Then, with the next attempt at a goal or project, the attempt is made with knowledge gained from the previous failure. What’s more is that the person has a chance to self-reflect too. Why did this fail? Am I on the right path? Not only can one see his/her ventures grow intellectually but one can grow emotionally as well.

Failure Helps Foster Creativity 

Going back to the bit about reflecting on what went wrong. In this process, our minds become sharper and more aligned with our creative sides. Coming at a problem from multiple angles necessitates creative thought, and within that creative thought new ideas are borne. Maybe the original goal was not meant to be–maybe something cooler and more innovative is on the horizon. To arrive at this awesome realization/goal cannot be possible without failure first. The evolution of skill, idea, and ability cannot happen without a bit of free falling!

Failure Grows Confidence

We all know the saying once you fall to get right back up, right? If we didn’t, would we have ever learned how to walk? Would we know how to read, ride bikes, or drive cars? Think about it. Failure, and fear of failure really boils down to perspective. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 14 years old!! I was afraid of falling. Once I did fall (a LOT) eventually I was riding my bike here, there, and everywhere. I moved to Los Angeles to act and model in 2006, complete with a three year contract. Some (usually of the negative persuasion) may say I “failed” at this dream or “didn’t make it.” No way!! Simply because one’s dreams evolve or reshape does not constitute failure or not making it. In fact, my many years of getting rejected at auditions but booking others helped shape me into the mostly confident young woman I am today. Not only can failure make us more confident in what we do, but it also can make us more confident in how we do it, why we do it, and within ourselves.

Failure Creates Humility 

Ever meet that person at the bar (or wherever) who cockily states how he/she landed their perfect lover after the first date, or had no problems booking a part (we’re in L.A. after all) or landing a job? Do these types of people interest you? For me, the road of Hard Knocks brings a lot more to the table, and generally speaking, people who have lived a lot and fallen down even more are as generous as they are humble. Perhaps the stories of instant success can make some want to rush out and start grappling for achievement. But that’s really not how life works (and quite likely, the boastful person has exaggerated his/her path to “#winning”). It’s the people who endure tough times, suffer rejection, yet learn how to get back up and keep plugging away who are confident, but also humble and helpful to others who seek support and advice. I don’t know about you, but that’s the person I strive to be.

Failure Gives Inspiration

People I look to for inspiration are those who crawled a long, hard paths to reach their dreams. They are generous, vulnerable, and self-assured without being cocky. When we fail, we create new opportunities not only for ourselves but for others. All of our hardships can be seeds for creative thought, better ideas, new life paths, but also inspiration for people we come into contact with. Goals don’t have to be huge, and we don’t necessarily have to be famous or # 1 to have achieved success. But we do have to keep going. Let failure be inspiration to your soul and your aspirations. Accept barriers as blocks to cut through or drive around, not permanent blockades.

 

So fail, fail, and fail again–you’ll be a better person for it.

xo,

Nadya

The Real Women

I am not your Superwoman I am just the kind of woman that has always been for generations.  My great grandmother emigrated to NYC from Panama in the 1950s and opened and ran her own dry cleaning business. In that same city just 20 years earlier my father’s’ grandmother took in the laundry of the ladies of the night and kept herself and family well taken care of during the Depression.

I witnessed my own mother move her family cross country to California, rent an apartment close to a city college, complete her course work, transfer to and graduate from Cal Poly Pomona then within 3 years become a manager at a major corporation.  She then went on to open two businesses of her own.  Those are the stories of the women I come from, real women.

My present story is more clearly defined by the women that I know. Whenever we can we gather in school and grocery store parking lots, in college hallways. Wherever we can find the space or time to fill each other in.  Recently inside the classroom of the school I teach in, one of my co-teachers came in looking perplexed.  There were two of us in the room who in unison asked her “What’s wrong?”   She had just started her Masters Program at CSULA.  After she leaves work she was going to her classes where she would be all evening, and not reach home until 9 p.m when her 1½ year old baby would be soundly sleeping.  “I just feel so bad.”  We identified with her, the other teacher had 2 small children. And I have a teenager taller than me, hungrier than me, with a mustache coming in.  I still have trouble leaving him to come to work, leaving work go to school and I reach home just as late.  When I get home my baby is awake watching The Daily Show, looking for food.  “We are Superwomen!”  I offered as means of upliftment but again, in unison they disagreed “No we are not.”

Debora Spar, the President of Barnard College, takes a fresh look of what is possible and and not for the woman of the 21st century in her new book, Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection.

Spar finds that women feel guilty regardless of where they work and how much they earn and how many children they have. That is to say that women of baby boomer age have been expected to do it all (have careers, plus families). And yet, expectations have been raised even higher for Millennial women. They are expected to be wives, mothers, housekeepers, excellent athletes, be entrepreneurial and save the world.

In the myth of the Superwoman even our desires to live our dreams are misrepresented as this inhuman ability that is just out of reach.  When in reality for women like my grandmothers and the teachers it is the way of life.  Honestly I was surprised by the reaction of my co workers.  I expected them to signify “That’s right I am!” or return the kudos “We all are!”,   but mostly they expressed disappointment. They didn’t feel like they were being their best while striving for their best.

There has come a point after I have fed my family, ran my errands, paid my rent,  gone to dance class, written and revised 5 poems, looked into Masters Programs, taught a burgeoning writer how to put their ideas on paper, that I feel like I need help.  I feel like I am on the last leg of a relay race and it is time to pass the baton , but the person running the next lap is also me.  It isn’t a dream I have actually had the desire to split myself into 2 perhaps 4 women to cover everything I want to do.

In Yoruba folktales the Orisha Oya, goddess of wind and change, grows a beard to go to war.  In Egyptian myth Hathor the goddess of love, joy, motherhood, and music played the role of goddess of the Sun and goddess of the Moon, goddess of the East and West, goddess of birth and the underworld, the sky goddess and the goddess of agriculture.  The transformative nature of women can technically be categorized as goddess like. Multifaceted characteristics that can be associated with a wide range of phenomena like creation, healing, beauty. And we can add teaching, organizing and leading to the list.  What is being categorized in this society as our need to have it all is our nature as women. We create foundations and new pathways.

The myth is that it is not attainable, the reality is it’s happening.  I find what makes it easier are not theories convincing me I am not possible, I am a myth.  What makes it all come together are the women just like me.  The community of women that find each other and make time to share resources and stories. The real women we see ourselves as, the woman that keep us striving to be who we are.

 

Samantha Parker

Alpha be, Alpha do, I’m an Alpha & so are you

Okay, I know. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at the title of this post. The very FIRST blog post of this site, no less. Even as the little rhyme scheme popped into my head, I rolled my own eyes. I’m not a rhymer. And that’s coming from someone who writes a lot of poetry (that seldom rhymes). But trust me, there’s a reason for this. There’s a reason for the title of the post, for this website, and above all else, for you being here.

When plugging “Alpha female” into Google,  The first thing that pops up is a blurb from an Elite Daily article  about dating strategies for the otherworldly Alpha Female, described as:

 a strong, majestic female. She can often be intimidating to those around her and isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants. She’s killing it in her career and has a solid group of friends to rely on.

Generally speaking, most view the Alpha female as a hardcore, high achieving, and high control seeking woman. Beneath her, is the Beta female, her less power hungry more laid back counterpart. Waiiitttt a second. Aren’t we women a little more dynamic than that? Can’t we be strong, but also laid back? Well, of course.

In Sonya Rhodes, PhD and Susan Schneider’s book The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match: How Today’s Strong Women Can Find Love and Happiness Without Settling, the idea that Beta and Alpha traits are not mutually exclusive or necessarily superior to one or the other is brought to the table:

Alpha? Beta? It isn’t always either/or, and Alpha is not better than Beta. Far more important is the degree of each that you have in your personality. You may be a Beta, with anywhere from a handful to a big helping of Alpha, or an Alpha with strong to middling Beta tendencies, or an extreme Alpha, with practically no Beta at all. You may be pretty much a hybrid, with equal amounts of both. I’m betting that you’ve got some Alpha no matter who you are.

Not to digress too hard but notice how both of the sources I referenced relate to dating/relationship in some capacity? Is it not possible to talk about our strengths without cycling back to the need for another on our arm? Really, every other article related to the Alpha or the “strong” woman connects in some manner to dating and relationship woes. But that’s an issue for another post.

Anyhow, I don’t “bet” that you have some Alpha no matter who you are, I know.

How?

Because for years and years I perceived myself as useless, ugly, was wrought with insecurity, and terrified of social situations. In spite of all this, I desired to climb the ranks, but assumed I’d ultimately settle into a more comfortable “safe” zone because shit…why would little ‘ol me be meant for anymore than that?

Then, at nineteen, I moved 3,000 miles across the country to pursue modeling/acting from the small town of Hagerstown, MD. I won’t get all autobiographical on you, but in short, even within this great leap (you may think um…that’s pretty brazen, seems kinda inherently Alpha to me!) was insurmountable self-doubt. Even as I began to audition, attend castings, and even book jobs with regularity, an omniscient version of myself warned of potential failure. The voice loved to remind me how I was once a chubby picked on loser from a cow town, and those types of girls don’t, and shouldn’t “make it”. The voice said to go be a teacher and forget about my dreams* (*there’s nothing wrong with being a teacher! Back in the day, however, I associated teaching with settling).

Okay, and?

I grew into myself. But NOT by myself. I grew through gained experience, networking, mentoring, and largely from other women. And today, though still somewhat insecure (normal, natural, healthy, yada yada)–I’m at a place where I know my strengths. And I know I am Alpha. And if I can be Alpha, so can you.

To be Alpha, first and foremost you must trust yourself.

To do Alpha, go for your dreams–but don’t be afraid to seek guidance from other women, outlets, or resources throughout your journey (we’ll help each other!).

And lastly, be kind to yourself and others. True Alphas are not cold bitches. They’re generous, warm, and strong.

So yeah. Get in on this mantra with me, because honestly, with a little confidence, hard work, and external support–all kinds of opportunities await. For all of us.

Welcome to Alpha2Alpha.

xo,

Nadya