Let’s Talk About Failure


joblessIt’s that word, or act that many successful people speak of, as they paint a picture of how they brought themselves up by their bootstraps.

Or, as they attempt to convince you that the program, product, or philosophy they are promoting will do the same for you.

But not a lot of folks talk about it as they stand at the edge of that battlefield, about to go back through it for the umpteenth time.

Or, as they contemplate what lies ahead while praying they’ve just made it out.

Depending on your expectations of self, or what others expect from you, how we see failure can be challenging, or overwhelming.

I have faced that beast all too many time. Been bullied, battered, and beaten by it.

Over the years, and on many occasions, it has taught me that I am not the smartest, best looking, or luckiest person on the planet.

I am not impervious to pain, embarrassment, ignorance, hate, or loss.

As a child, I watched it take a few swings at my grandmother. It hammered at my mother throughout her life. And once it knew what dreams and hopes I had in my little mind … it seemed to lick its lips at the prospect of tearing them to shreds with tooth and claw … or swallowing them whole … one by one.

We’ve all been there to some degree. In fact some of us have been mauled far more than others.

And with what media has shown us is transpiring in the world, it seems like this foul creature of ill intent has mustered up quite a legion of despair to rain down and drown us where we stand.

At this time, snippets of remarks from several people cross my mind. “…And still I rise…” Mya Angelou. “…I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating…” Sophocles. “…I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work…” Thomas Edison.  And “…they can knock us down, but they can’t beat us as long as we keep getting’ up…” my mother.

I will fail again, and again, as I continue to try things, new or not mastered yet. But I will also succeed.

And yes, I am not proud of when I don’t succeed, especially if I believe in it and know I’m doing right thing for the right reasons. But I am not as ashamed or embarrassed as I once was.

My pride is grounded in a place other than my ego. I am proud that I have not given up. I am proud that in doing as much good as I can, I have help some, if not more, or all.

I am proud that I have learned to remind myself of the successes I have known, and not dwell or wallow in the memories of loss, or the fear of possible failure in the days to come.

We will lose sometimes. That is the way of things.

We will hope that it will not be often, and not in things that truly matter, like love. But sometimes it will.

And when it does, I can only hope we can take it, learn from it, and then – with speed or time – rise and continue on.


Because you never know … and that is also a promise of life.

For this I give thanks.


“The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” – Chinese proverb

About SimmonsHereAndNow

Alex Simmons is an award-winning freelance writer, comic book creator, playwright, teaching artist, and educational consultant. He’s written for Disney Books, Penguin Press, Simon and Schuster, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. Simmons is the creator of the acclaimed adventure comic book series, Blackjack. As a teaching artist Simmons has created and taught creative arts workshops for students and educators in the US, Europe, West Indies, and Africa. Simmons has served on panels, and delivered lectures on children’s entertainment mediums, as well as empowering young people through the arts. Simmons founded the annual family event, Kids Comic Con, as well as three comic arts exhibits, which have traveled abroad. He is currently developing a comics and creative arts program for children all over the world. For over 30 years, Simmons has been a member of arts and education boards for the New York State Alliance for Arts Education, the Department for Cultural Affairs, and is on the State Department Speakers Program. As a teaching artist Simmons has been paid to have fun working with youth through the Apollo Theater In-School Arts Program, Henkel McCoy, Upward Bound, New York Council on the Arts, Children’s Art Carnival, Wings Academy, and NYU Creative Arts Team, to name a few. He has been a panelist at many literacy and arts events, and he has been a guest speaker at numerous colleges and educational institutions here and abroad.
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