Failure Sucks

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I didn't score a single point in my last high school basketball game. Not one. It was the worst feeling ever.

I kind of forgot about this actually, which makes sense because hello it's been ten years, normal people move on from trivial things this like... And normal people certainly don't have a reoccurring dream about missing their last high school basketball game at least once per week...

I think I locked this shitty memory away because it was just that, shitty. But last night out of nowhere it came back to me.

Yesterday I had my first performance at the new iO building with a show called The Pool. The Pool's cast is stacked with some very very funny people, so I was nervous and also excited to get to perform with them. I also had an unwarranted feeling of confidence because I was still riding my high from my performance with The Sneak Around Bunch, from Monday night at the Second City.  Did I mention Ashley from The Grits blog even brought some of her co-workers to watch the show on Monday night while they were all visiting Chicago? Well she did and that was pretty awesome of her, so like I said, I was on a high. I was ready to nail my debut appearance at iO on Kingsbury street.

iO on Kingsbury street had different plans for me, unfortunately.


Before the show we were all warming up in the Chris Farley green room and I was feeling good. Being a part of anything with his name on it always makes me happy. So when we took the stage and announced that we were the first ever "Pool" show at iO I was ready to roll.

Our opening started and I was determined to chime in. The first few people said things and I was thinking in my head what should I say... More people said things and I was still thinking. By the time I said something it was so meager and weak I don't think anyone heard me.

When we cleared the stage to start our first scenes I was already feeling significantly less confident than when I started. Being on stage with low confidence is a dangerous thing, for me especially. Because the voice in my head likes to tear me a part when it can sense weakness. I wouldn't say I'm hard on myself, I'm honest. I honestly tell myself how shitty I think I am... So as I stood against the wall and watched the first scene unfold my mind was already starting to fill with negativity about why I was already ruining this show. The second scene started and I tried to even harder to make myself disappear into the wall. By the time the third one got underway and I still hadn't gone out I had pretty much already decided I was done for. This is a terrible attitude to have with improv and I know this. It's selfish and it doesn't do any good for your teammates on stage. But never the less, the feeling was there.

When the second beat scenes started I threw myself out there realizing I didn't have much of a choice at this point. I mumbled my way through a shitty scene and just wanted to run off stage. Everyone else seemed to know what was going on but I was lost as hell.

I felt like the audience could smell my low self confidence. If I wasn't confident with the things I was saying, why should they be? I told myself they had already decided I wasn't funny so I should just stay to the side and hide like the coward I was being.

After the show we sat in the audience and watched the next group and I tried to sink into my chair as low as possible. If I could have melted into that chair I would have. I just felt so so stupid about my bad performance. This terrible feeling of failure resonated inside of me. And then I realized it felt familiar. That's when all of the sudden I remembered that weird memory that had been put away for ten years about not scoring in my last high school game. It was the exact same feeling. And by now you're probably thinking, whoa chill out weirdo it's just an improv show. And you're right, I'm being super dramatic here. But that's how I get when I'm shitty at something I so badly want to be good at. I'm dramatic. Because it pisses me off when I'm a failure and I know I've let other people down.

I was a point guard when I played basketball. And I was two completely different players in a game depending on whether I was confident or not. When I was having a good game I loved having the ball. I thought I was faster than anyone and was always trying to get a break away.  When I was having a bad game I absolutely dreaded having to bring the ball up court- especially against a press, more specifically a South Sioux press. Having a point guard who dreads taking the ball isn't the best quality... It's kind of like having an improv player who doesn't want to leave the wall.

I'm not good at improv and it drives me nuts. We are adults playing make believe on stage and I'm screwing it up. That's not right. And it forces me to write "deep" blog posts about my inner demons from high school and why basketball is metaphorically similar to improv, and that's even more not right.

Feeling like a failure just sucks, whatever age you are and whatever it is you're doing. That's all there is to it.

I'll get better. I'll learn to be the best make-believer on stage if it kills me.


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18 comments:

  1. I totally get this. When I was teaching, we had the kids do practice tests for the big end-of-year test, and at one of them, my classes had the lowest scores out of the entire district (12/12). I felt like the biggest failure ever. So I worked my ass off and at the final one they were 6/12.

    You'll get better and there will be better days. You can do it! You know all of us over at blogland find you hilarious.

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  2. I hear you on this completely. We had an inservice day at my job today... these days make me feel like I am no good at my job and put me in a terrible mood because everyone is bursting with great, creative ideas and I feel like I've got nothing. I feel like a total failure when I leave these types of things. It is a terrible feeling to have but I'll get up tomorrow and go to work and try to be better because that's all we can do! Hang in there, I'm rooting for you and awaiting the day I see you on Saturday Night Live!

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  3. I completely get this! In my work situation I have days like that. In a meeting that I am hosting or a conference call I get that sinking feeling in my stomach that tells me I don't know what I am doing and they made a mistake putting me in my leadership position. I think what we feel is normal. I think even the best of the best feel insecure at times. When I feel like that and feel like a deer in the headlights and like I don't know what I am talking about I just tell myself "Fake it until you make it". Seems to work and most of the time people actually think I know what I'm doing. Ha! I love that you are so open and can share your insecurites. From the outside looking in, you are killing it. :-)

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  4. Hey girl hey. Everyone loves a good reality-check blog post, but this one really spoke to me especially because it's so much like how I feel. I think this - combined with your prev post - really just show how alike we all are. We all have our lows. And they freaking suck ass. Makes you wonder what the H is really going on in your life, if you totally picked the wrong path, blah blah. But the great thing is that these are just LOWS. they're not the NORMS.

    There's a ton of inspirational quotes and shit I could leave you with .. but I'm sure you know them .. and hey look, you got a great blog post out of it. And that fringe-y dress from IG yest? You rocked it!

    High fives from over here on the east coast.

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  5. But the fact that you get up on that stage means that you are breaking down that demon. When I was in middle school I was part of odyssey of the mind. we wrote a play and would perform it. That I excelled at. The hard part was the improv. If i felt like i messed it up I was done for. I think we all have things we're unsure of. It's what keeps us humble and on our toes. Anyway this was kind of a ramble comment but I think I'm impressed that you do something hard and that you keep trying. Even if you miss the basket.

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  6. Failure DOES suck, and it will always suck. I've been trying to embrace the idea that failure is a part of life. I used to believe it was something one should avoid at all costs, so you should never do anything out of your comfort zone, or put in 100% if it's not your strength. But if you never fail, you never grow. And I'd rather grow, than not. I think part of living your 20s is realizing that you just have to embrace both the good and the bad. Profound, right? Haha. But really, it has been a hard lesson for me to learn. The thought of improv kind of terrifies me, so you are one giant step ahead of me in my book (and a lot of people's books, I would imagine). Every great comedian has terribly embarrassing stories. If anything, this just means good things are coming your way! :) Hang in there. At least you are taking risks. You should be proud of that.

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  7. Failure is miserable. But you weren't a failure because you got yourself out there. And you'll do it again. And that's not failing. That's having a bad outing. You'll knock them dead next time.

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  8. This was the perfect post to read today…I felt like a failure today. All I can keep thinking is that tomorrow is a new day and it will be behind me…another day to fail or a day to succeed. Hang in there, apparently failure is taking a ride around the continent today:)

    xo, Taylor

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  9. I think every journey comes with a failure punch card. At some point, you'll stop failing, but the only way to get to that point is to punch the card a hell of a lot of times. Just make it a point to get them over with as soon as possible. Like, if you know you have 10 more to go, get them over with stat. You'll be surprised what happens when you make it a game, especially when you're learning something new.

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  10. Failure is awful, and I've heard that it kills dreams which I totally believe. There have been a lot of things that I haven't even tried to do because I was so afraid of failing. At least you got out there though, that's a start!

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  11. Completely get this! But remember everyone has these feelings and they are natural. Im a lawyer, and I have to speak to a judge daily... fear is always there. A really good UK senior attorney once told me, if you stand in a courtroom and you are not nervous, you are doing something wrong. I think it might be the same for you. Its ok to be nervous and fear failure. In the end it may be that fact that will push you to success. :)

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  12. Good for you for sticking with it!!! I struggle with this deeply myself

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  13. i dont blame you for feeling that way. It happens to the best of us - failure. you seem to have the right attitude so this wont stick to you like the basketball game

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  14. It's not failure, just a hurdle. But you're kick ass awesome so I know you'll get over this :)

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  15. Is it bad to say I like this post? I mean, it sucks that your show didn't go well, and I'm sorry your brain picks you apart when you make mistakes (been there). But I'm impressed that you're able to write about it and you're already refocusing on trying again. I think failing is a topic we can all relate to, and turning it into something positive is damn hard! So don't feel like you shouldn't write about it. Also, I think you were spot on in your basketball/improve comparison.

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  16. Number one - you don't suck. Literally, every single one of my co-workers commented on how hilarious you were at Second City. Secondly, I totally get how all of the nerves and everything can get the best of you.

    Okay, now turn on the Rocky music and say this is a "you can do it" voice:
    Ask yourself what do you have to lose? Even if you did your crappiest of crap performance, you are still doing something that most people don't have the opportunity to do and you are on that stage for a reason - because you are funny and talented as hell! YOU'VE GOT THIS GIRL!! NOW GO ROCK IT!

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  17. I didn't score in my last game either. I even was on the free throw line and my teammate whispered in my ear "Get your name in the paper". And, yup, two misses. Fail.

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  18. I so know what you mean about how you can be a completely different player/team mate if your confident or insecure that day. I'm the exact same way. Especially in things I'm not really good at. I want to be good at everything I try, so things that take a little more effort for me usually leave me in a situation like you described. If I'm confident I can do awesome. Not the best, but usually pretty good. If I'm full of insecurities, I'm the worst on the team. The sad part is, if I could just put my insecurities aside, and work on my skill during the times I am confident, but not amazing, I would grow so much faster in that skill! You know? Geesh brain! I wish you'd just shut up on command! Also, I watched your Laugh Factor Video on You tube... You're hilarious. I loved it. And you oozed confidence. Loooove it!

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