Have you ever wanted to try something, but were afraid to do it because it might not work? Because you might fail?
You’re probably imagining the Thing right now, aren’t you? That Thing that’s been sitting on the backburner of your brain for aaaaages? But every time you think of tackling the Thing, all you can think of is what could go wrong. Right?
I recently met someone afraid to try making decorated cookies. To me, making cookies is something light and fun. It’s enjoyable as a process, and you end up with tasty treats at the end. It was something I wanted to try and just went out and did. After reading this post from the Pioneer Woman, I dove in feet first: I tried it, tried new things, progressed and grew in my skill set through experience (and the odd YouTube tutorial). I wanted to try, so I did. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be intimidating for someone who has never done it before. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that every professional started as a novice.
My first time doing it, they turned out okay, but it was a messy, time consuming process, and I didn’t know how to handle the icing half the time. They turned out alright (and tasty, at least!), I had fun despite the faults, and I learned from the experience:
Everyone’s first time doing these cookies is a bit of a messy learning experience, but when all you ever see is Pinterest-Perfect collections, it’s easy to start thinking “If they don’t turn out like that it’s a failure. I’ll never be that good. I might as well not try.”
For me, doing these cookies is like sketching or doing art: even when it doesn’t turn out how I expect or want it to, it’s still an activity I enjoy, and I can always learn from my mistakes. Someday, I hope to do this with my kids and teach them what I’ve learned, and we’ll make a fun family activity of it. And if their cookies turn out messy, I’ll just tell them that if they had fun then it was worth it, no matter the final result. The joy is in the journey.
So, you could fail. But, why not try, anyway?
Just give it a shot. Just a chance. Don’t let it linger in the back of your mind forever. Ideas and Things go there to wither and die, or they grow bigger and more intimidating the longer they’re left to their own devices. Once you finally take the Thing out to play, you may find that it’s not as menacing as it seems, and you’ll find a new pet project, or you may find that it’s simply not for you and you can let it go. Just try it.
So, in keeping with this advice, I had a cookie idea recently that could have become a Thing.
I’m a part of a cookier’s group on Facebook, and Couture Confections recently shared these beautiful cookies she made:
At first, I flipped because they’re beautiful (just look at that watercolor marbling effect!), then I flipped because at first I thought the cameos were done in royal icing. I asked, and the original cookier used a cameo mold to create these beauties.
I thought that would be the end of it, but my brain wouldn’t let it go: What if you could do it in royal icing?
And for a little bit, I just kept thinking about the technique and how you could try and do it, and the more I thought about it, the more I started thinking: No. It can’t be done. This wouldn’t work, that wouldn’t work, blah, blah, blah. I started feeling intimidated by the Thing.
But then I had that encounter with someone who was scared to try something that, to me, seems so simple. Who had become intimidated by an idea that I would have advised, “just give it a go and see what happens.” So, I thought: It might not work. But why not try, anyway?
And, so, I tried:
A couple days ago, I had a little free time (read: my kids were cooperating with afternoon quiet time and I didn’t feel like adulting and cleaning house, so I was selfish with my time so I could try and make a pretty thing) and I went for it.
There are textures I hadn’t quite anticipated and don’t care for. Sometimes the icing was too thick or too thin for what I wanted it to do. There are any number of small mistakes that I see when I look at them, but hadn’t I anticipated that?
In the end, some of them turned out a little more “bearded lady” or “Medusa” than “Victorian cameo,” but others I’m quite happy with, actually. And even if they had turned out entirely awful, I still had fun with the process, and I think I learned a method that I could use to try again for different results.
I knew they wouldn’t be perfect, but I think I learned from the process. I think there are any number of times you need to try something you know could fail miserably because there are still lessons to be learned from it. There is still enjoyment to be garnered from it.
Additionally, knowing it probably won’t work frees you from the expectation of perfection. It allows you to just enjoy the process and see where it takes you. If it doesn’t work, it’s no worse than you feared, and if it does work, well, what a pleasant surprise!! So, why not try anyway?
And, really, that’s the core of it.
Why not try, anyway?
Yes, you might fail. But, so what?
You can try to make cookies, but they might fail. The worst is that you ruin them, and you’re out the cost of ingredients and time. If you don’t utterly burn them, eat the evidence! They might turn out beautiful and delicious!
You can try to learn to knit that scarf, but it might fail. The worst is that you’re out the cost of materials and time. If you try, you might learn something, you might enjoy it, and you might have a new scarf!
You can try exercising and a clean eating plan, but you might fail. The worst is that you don’t get the results you’re hoping for. If you try, you might regain confidence, feel better, and reach life-changing goals!
Whatever your Thing is, ask yourself: what is the worst thing that could happen? Then ask: would that really be so bad? When you knowingly accept what the worst-case scenario is, you take the power away from the fear, and the intimidation factor practically vanishes.
So, why not try, anyway?
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
— Erin Hanson —
So: what is your Thing that you have been too scared to try for fear of failure? Don’t let it hold you back. Give it a try: the worst that could happen is that it doesn’t work and you have to eat the evidence. 😉
Thanks for reading!