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About my new story “The Rising Failure”

The Rising Failure By Desmond Rhae Harris

Story Content Warnings: Trauma, drug use

This story was written all in one burst, and came to precisely 1,000 words in the first draft. This story is meant for anyone who’s struggled with perfectionism, mental paralysis, self-directed criticism and brutality, and angst related to the concept of success. In case you scrolled past the button: Please, read it.

What in any hell is success, anyway? Can anyone truly define it? I was talking with someone the other day about what it means to be successful, since I’d mentioned struggling to accept that success will come my way if I just continue to try. Almost like some kind of “preemptive imposter syndrome” . . . So she asked me how I define success.

And I couldn’t answer her. It took me over 20 minutes to work it out, and some nasty trauma resurfaced. I talked about how, when I was a child, even when something was “good enough,” it never was–it was simply on to the next thing, then the next, and then the next, always with the harshly-driven goal of doing better than last time.

No one ever told me that progress isn’t linear–or if they did, I wasn’t able to understand it against the backdrop of the world around me.

No one ever taught me that it really was okay to fail, because they showed me the opposite.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” = “Which moving part of this dying machine do you want to be?”

“Great job!” = “So, how are you going to impress me next?”

At least, that was my experience.

And I’m not sharing this for sympathy–I’m sharing it in case you relate. I’m talking about it because, even when they try, it feels like no one else ever does.

It’s okay to fail.

It’s okay to fail.

It’s okay to fail.

Can it sting? Yes. Can it burn? Yes. Can it feel like dying, again and again? Yes.

But so must a moth feel when it bursts from its cocoon, screaming bloodflow into its wings so that it can fly and take on the night. So must everything feel during nature’s roughest moments, with every fight to survive–it is we, sentient creatures, who feel the need to overcomplicate things. To explain them. To define them into concepts like success and failure.

And not inexplicably so: Without adversity, without struggle, and without failure, we would never evolve.

And everyone defines failure and success differently. Some define them as something they hate. Some define them as something they love and take defiant solace in.

How do you define failure? No matter how you do, I say: It is alright to fail. Sometimes, failure and all the twisted-yet-beautiful lessons that come from it are all we have.

Take control of your life, look after your loved ones and yourself–but be yourself. My definition of “success” is to simply live one’s life and do things each day that feel fulfilling and contribute to one’s current goals. And to do so requires an enormous amount of trial and error . . . of failure.

So, fail. Rise up stronger for it afterwards–you might just succeed. But first . . . Go forth and fail.

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