On Failure

As you can see, there is - gasp! - an inspirational quote attributed to Thomas Edison beside this text. Now, considering I wrote an entire blog post about how I think inspirational quotes are a load of bullshit a while back, you might be wondering why it's there. Have I had so many thrown at me that they've rotted my brain?

Hopefully not. In actual fact, I've just put this quote up because it pisses me off. It, and so many other quotes like it, seem to misunderstand the nature of failure as opposed to the nature of fucking up.

And how would I, a whiny, self-important adolescent, know the difference - if indeed there is one? Surely my words cannot compare to the wisdom of thousands of inspirational quotes?

Well, I don't claim to know much, but a lifetime of fucking up and of failing at various things has taught me the difference between the one and the other - a difference that doesn't seem to register with the League of Inspirational Bullshitters, but it wouldn't, would it?

Fucking up, or making a mistake, is what most of the inspirational bullshit refers to as failure. You try and do something, you make a mistake, you figure out what the mistake was, you learn from it, you try again. Sometimes you fuck up and repeat the whole process. Sometimes you succeed. Either way, you can usually figure out where to go, or if not, it's one of those things you can puzzle out. I've fucked up. I've fucked up many times - too many to count. But even though I'm a perfectionist with massively low self-esteem, even though I might not be able to rebound from some of my fuckups, I can learn something from them.

Failure is different. Failure is the near-complete inability to figure out what you can do next, let alone how you can do it. It can be difficult to articulate, particularly when you don't know how you've failed, only that you have failed. Failure is not knowing where to go. Failure is not even knowing where you are. What the hell can you learn from that type of failure?