• thatdancetalk

Daring to Fail (And how to look after yourself when you do)

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

I have been thinking about the process of failing.

As dancers, makers, performers, teachers and artists, failure becomes almost second nature. It goes hand in hand with 'achieving your dreams' and 'reaching your goals'. If you went to college/university/school to study dance or theatre, I can almost gurantee most reading this will have been told that to find the key part of your work, to unlock that pivotal moment in performance, first we need to fail.

They weren't wrong.

Failure is a key component for us to understand how we work, what choices to make next time and to understand what comes at the core of what we decide to do. We find beauty in failure, we learn and we grow. Audition after job application after funding bid. We get knocked down and we get up again. Failure is ultimately useful to our creative practice and as human beings. However... as a recovering perfectionist, I find failure terrifying. Who am I kidding, we all find failure terrifying. No one wants to fail and sometimes the sheer drugery of failing wants us to pack it all in and not try again. The shame outweighs the possibility and hope of succeeding. The thought I kept coming back to is that whilst we are encouraged to get up and try try try again, we don't spend much time talking about aftercare for failure.

Whilst in a YouTube hole one day (we've all been there), I stumbled across Brené Brown. Brown is a leading researcher into vulnerability and shame and this TedTalk below has been viewed 1000's of times all around the world where she discusses a pivotal moment in her research on vulnerability. Inspired, I started to read one of her books 'Daring Greatly'. The chapter 'Gold Plating Grit' put my thoughts into coherence, what about the bit that comes after failure? How do we find the strength to try again?

Brown shares her studies that there is a real absence or honest conversation about how much hard work it takes to get up from lying face down after failing, to standing up and Rising Strong (another wonderful Brené Brown book). We see the scar but rarely see a wound whilst it is in process of healing. She states that this is because of shame and also down to the intimacy of revealing how hard failing is.

Now, we don't need to publicly display our failure and our attempts to overcome if we don't wish to, but Brown summises that embracing failure without acknowledging hurt or fear of that complex journey is what's know as 'Gold Plating Grit'. Knowing this, I feel more equipped to be brave and fail, with the awareness that it's okay to look after myself on the way back up. A useful way of looking after yourself after failure is to write. I don't mean to write and document your experiences but as soon as possible after your failure, note how it made you feel. Being aware of what makes us feel vulnerable, what makes us feel shame will make it that little bit easier to spot the next time we fail.

Let's take our time, recover, recouperate and try again.

#failure #brenebrown #daringtofail #risingstrong #dance #artspractice #risks

#experimental #mistakes #fail #failure #recovery #standing #learning #vulnerability


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