Excerpt from Award-winning Book, How My Cat Made Me a Better Man (Feig): Fear of Failure
In honor of Caturday, we are posting another except from How My Cat Made Me a Better Man, a Book of the Year finalist.
Fear of Failure
You're not perfect. You'll fail at many things, sometimes in mind-blowingly spectacular fashion. Don't let that stop you from going after your goals because if you don't make an effort, you've already failed.
On one of Shelly's exciting trips down the hallway of my apartment building, she got confused. She'd gone up a flight of stairs, then walked to the apartment directly above mine, which looked exactly the same. She sat patiently in front of the door and waited for me to let her in. Of course, I didn't since it wasn't my apartment. Thankfully, my upstairs neighbor didn't open his door since it would've been awkward explaining why my cat and I were hanging out on his welcome mat.
Shelly's sense of direction had failed her, but even though she couldn't successfully find her way home, she still enjoyed exploring the building. It didn't stop her from future hallway excursions, either. In fact, it helped her navigate better the next time.
If you learn from your failures, you can improve things when you try them again. Did you fail a class? Don't obsess about it. Just study more next time so history doesn't repeat itself. Did you try to pick up a girl without realizing your fly was open? That's rough. But don't let it stop you from hitting on the next hot chick who catches your eye. Just make sure to do a zipper check first.
Do you know what makes a big, public failure more palatable? Laughing at yourself. Trust me, it feels a lot better to be in on the joke. After Pee-wee Herman was arrested at an adult movie theatre for, umm, enjoying his own company, it became a huge media scandal. Then, Pee-wee went onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards and asked, "Heard any good jokes lately?" By acknowledging his public fail, he owned it, taking control of the conversation, and he managed to salvage his career.
When I was in junior high, I played tuba in the band (yeah, that's right. This seventh grader had it goin' on). At the end of the year, we had to play Pomp and Circumstance for the graduating ninth-graders. I was late, so I started running to the auditorium where the ceremony was taking place. It was a struggle since I had to carry my enormous tuba with me. Halfway down the hall, I slipped and fell. One of the tuba's screws came out, causing it to break into two comically large pieces. So, I'm sitting there on the floor, feverishly trying to put this giant (and now dented) instrument back together.
The graduating ninth-graders filed past me as they made their way to the auditorium. They all pointed and laughed at me, but instead of sobbing into my mouthpiece out of embarrassment, I laughed, too. I mean, how could I not laugh? A scrawny seventh-grader on the floor with a busted instrument twice his size? Sounds funny to me.
That incident could've become a moment to share with future therapists, but instead it became an anecdote. That's because I accepted what happened and rolled with it. Not every public failure will allow you to do this, of course, but take control when you can. If you can laugh at yourself, then maybe the failure wasn't so terrible after all. You can bounce back.
You're going to make mistakes. When it happens, deal with the aftermath, then try to move on. If you accidentally plow over the umpire in a softball game, help him back up and hope he doesn't hold it against you on the next close play. If you break the good bottle of vodka at a block party, don't go home and hide. Head to the liquor store, buy another bottle, and then get back to those sexy triplets who just moved next door.
Don't let failure—or the potential for failure—stop you from moving forward. Failing doesn't define who you are. It might be upsetting, disappointing, and make you feel like a fool, but it's better to try something and fail than to not have tried at all. Not going after what you want is the quickest path to regret. And that's worse than failure any day.
Here you can use your cat to your advantage. If you are worried that you'll fail at something, try cutting your cat's nails. If you can trim even half of them without her going ballistic on you, you can accomplish anything.
For more posts about Jeremy, his cat, and his book, click HERE.