A Safe Place to Fail

Lately I have been purposely putting myself in situations where I don’t expect to succeed. That might sound a bit sadistic. As if I’m trying to set myself up for failure. But that’s not the case. I’m just exploring things where I don’t expect to be good, where learning could be frustrating, where I have little to no knowledge to do well.

It wasn’t intended to be a part of a greater plan, but I realized the hobbies I were selecting had a theme. They were all outside my comfort zone. I like to be good at everything. Don’t we all? And perfectionist runs deep for me. The idea of not doing something well, of looking dumb in front of others, is a tough one for me to get over. It doesn’t help that self-confidence isn’t my strong suit.

Thus I had a need- a safe place to fail.

First, I tried pottery. I love the concept of working with your hands, of creating something out of nothing, of molding clay into beauty. I struggled with harboring fantasies of unleashing my inner ceramic artist and discovering I was fantastic at this. But ceramics is an actual art and a craft that one must work at. I spent my 6 week intro series creating odd shaped bowls and one extremely shallow mug. When the class ended, I felt a bit embarrassed by the outcome but proud I’d tried. I wasn’t ready to commit to another series, but I wanted to continue learning and explore.

If pottery wasn’t the ticket, what could I possibly choose next?

Pole dancing. Or pole fitness if you prefer.

I am not particularly in tune with my body. Or graceful. I have very little core or upper body strength. These are all good things to have in pole. While I love to dance, I do not have many sexy dance moves in my repertoire. Again, that would be helpful. Needless to say, I knew this would be a challenging hobby. But I signed up for 3 weeks, then 6 months and I’m still going. None of it is pretty but I am so much stronger and confident.

And pole dancing has turned out to be an incredibly safe place to fail. It’s a class full of people who are equally intimidated and eager to try something new. Everyone supports each other as they conquer a tough move, but most importantly shares in the laughter of messing up and trying again. People who make “there ain’t no way I can do that” faces in exercise classes and laugh when moves are hard- those are my people.

I didn’t realize this space I had created for myself initially, but now I recognize the value it’s brought to me at work or in other aspects of my life. Reminding me that I can grow my courage each day in small ways, the practice of which benefits my life in big ways. A pottery class, a Toastmasters club, my small garden (where I fail repeatedly), taking pole dancing, even this blog, has provided me more value than I understood. They weren’t skills to master but places to grow.

Where is your safe place to fail?

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