I've had a fairly odd month - one of ups and downs. So I thought I'd do a blog post on the subject of failure. Look, don't worry, this isn't going to be full of emotions and stuff. That's not really how I do things.
I just have been thinking a lot about failure recently, and I wanted to collect together some thoughts.
'But Katie! You are so awesome in every single way... what do you possibly know about failure?!' I know, I know, right.
No but really. If you know me at all you'll know that I fail on a daily basis on some really obvious things: walking, mainly. I'd been 25 years old for all of one hour in the early hours of Sunday morning, and was walking down Upper Street with George. I was wearing my K-Midz wedges (although New Look, not Russell & Bromley, naturally) and did the most spectacular fall. It was Miranda-like. I wish someone had filmed it. Actually, I expect to die and arrive in heaven to be shown my 'best bits' - and it'll just be a compilation of all the times I've tripped and fallen over. Luckily we'll have eternity - we'll need it.
Other notable fails include:
1) An interview to study English Literature at University College, London. There were two men interviewing me and one asked me really hard questions, cutting me off before I'd had the chance to develop a thought properly, while the other sat at the back of the room and made some very rude and discouraging noises as he scribbled things down. I was terrified. I ballsed it up then I left, shut the door behind me and burst into tears. I resolved that if they accepted me I would turn them down and I would write a letter and explain why. Only I never got to write the letter because I didn't get in.
2) On a day out with a boy, lying on the grass looking at the sun in the middle of the day: 'Oh look, it's the moon'. (You know when you can sometimes see the moon in the day? I don't know how that works, I'm not Brian Cox, but sometimes you can see the outline of the moon in the daytime and it's really cool). Only this time it wasn't. It wasn't the day moon. It was the sun - just the sun behind a cloud for a bit. Embarrassing.
3) Trying to make caramel. Thanks for nothing, Delia.
Obviously these are only the mistakes I'm happy to tell the internet about. I haven't got the time or the courage to look back over my life and sum up all the actually terrible things I'd class as real failures (I can only tell you that first one because it happened about 5 years ago).
Also, things mostly always work out in the end. Take the UCL interview I messed up. I got a place at QMUL, had a great time, got a First, and met my now flatmate George. Things work out. I mean, he bought me the freaking ELDER WAND for my birthday this year. THINGS WORK OUT.
Also, on the whole (apart from a few specific incidents) I don't have huge regrets - I tend to look back at 'mistakes' and view them fairly philosophically. I generally think 'well that was me then, and I'd do things differently now of course, but that was me at that point in time and that's how I dealt with it. And I'm me now today, largely as a result of those decisions, and so that's fine.' (I said philosophically, not coherently).
But sometimes it's a more obvious fail - in a shorter time span, and it's easier to classify as a fail, far more than 'oh I should have ended that relationship earlier' or 'I should have told that person what I was feeling instead of keeping it all inside me til it burnt my insides' (this last one in particular I'M GETTING SLOWLY BETTER AT).
Here are three quotes which have helped me a lot recently:
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.”
- J.K Rowling
Now I trust JKR because she practically wrote my childhood, but she also knows a bit about failure and success. And giving away all your money in taxes and charity donations and not escaping to Monaco. Legend. I love her so much - I think if I ever met her my default reaction would be to curtsey.
I'm a bit late to the party on Neil Gaiman, but I just read 'Neverwhere' and it was excellent. A while back I watched this speech - it's so inspiring. He talks about making art.
"I hope you'll make mistakes. If you're making mistakes, it means you're out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful" - Neil Gaiman
http://www.uarts.edu/neil-gaiman-keynote-address-2012 - WATCH IT HERE.
And obviously you can't go wrong with C.S Lewis.
'Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement' - C.S. Lewis
As I was writing this I thought 'I wonder what Emma Thompson has to say on this subject?' Obviously she is perfect in every way and has never failed at anything in her life. However, she did have a terrible divorce from Kenneth Branagh and is now married to Greg Wise aka WILLOUGHBY (to be shouted breathlessly down a ballroom right before he gives you a guilty look because yeah he took a lock of your hair and you thought he was going to propose, but he's just found a woman with ten thousand pounds. Awkward). My point, I think, is that's proof that things work out. Not least for Marianne who ends up with Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman on a horse).
I've just realised this post doesn't have many pictures, so please, thank you for reading and here is a picture of Eddie Sportsmayne.