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Taking Big Risks and Failing Hard

by Sara on July 24, 2017

I don’t have a great history with being a risk taker.  I’m sure there are people in my life that would disagree, but I have a terrible habit of measuring my life based on other people’s accomplishments.  Sure maybe something was risky for me, but it’s pretty tame for most people so does it even count?

Last weekend I did something that was risky for me.  I got up on a bike in front of people I didn’t know and auditioned for a spot as a spin instructor at a local studio.  It was undoubtedly one of the scariest {for me} and nerve wracking things I have done in a long time.  I wanted to back out so many times but I had committed.  I had told everyone I knew.  I couldn’t quit before I even tried.  If I’m being honest, I told everyone I knew on purpose.   If I backed out I would have to tell everyone I was too scared to go through with it.  At the end of the day I would rather try and fail than not try at all.

And if I was going to try I was going to give it my all.  The moment I decided I was going to audition I signed up for classes with different instructors at the studio.  I got a membership to my work gym so I could use their spin bikes for practice.  I made Ralph come with me to the gym so I could practice with him.  I made playlist after playlist after playlist.  The week before the audition I was at the gym almost every day, even the morning of the audition I was practicing.  I practiced my routine in the car driving to work.  I practiced in my living room while my dog gave me weird head-tilted looks.

I practiced and prepared and I was STILL a ball of nerves walking into that studio.  But let me tell you, getting up on that podium and feeling like I knocked it out of the park because I was so prepared?  That felt amazing.  It felt beyond words amazing like nothing I had ever felt.

Here’s the thing with taking a risk.  It’s scary as hell.  It’s so uncomfortable.  But it won’t {usually} kill you.  And you you will {usually} come out the other end stronger no matter what the outcome.

I ended up getting a callback to audition again the next day, but overall between the short notice {I didn’t get the email until 8 or 9pm to come in again the next day at 1pm} and the somewhat vague instructions {“Come back tomorrow, same thing as today”} I was not as nearly as prepared.  If I thought the first round was intimidating the second was terrifying.  I knew the second I walked in I wasn’t as ready as the day before.  And the fear set in because hello, I was already there standing in the middle of the studio.  What was I going to do? Leave?  It was at that moment that I said to myself, “So what if you are the least prepared or least talented person in this room right now.  Even if you don’t get any further you are going to learn something.”

In the end I didn’t make the final cut.  I could feel it when I walked out of the studio though, I just knew it in my gut it didn’t go as well.  In that moment it’s hard to be proud of yourself for trying.  Those are the moments where fear creeps in and says, “See I knew you shouldn’t have tried.”

Why do we let fear hold us back?  Um, Hello.  It’s fear.  It’s things that are really SCARY.  So how do you overcome that fear?

I was scared to be the least experienced person in the room.  So what.  Maybe I was the least experienced person in the room.  But you know what else?  I have never taught spin before.  I have never been trained before.  I did my best with the tools I had access to and I shouldn’t feel bad that there might be other people out there with more experience/knowledge/training.  All I can do is keep moving forward from the exact spot I am right now, but I cannot expect to be in the same place as someone else.  It’s literally impossible.

I was scared that people would judge me.  People are going to judge you.  They will judge you if you do well.  They will judge you if you fail.  They will judge you if you think you did an amazing job and are really proud of yourself.  Someone will find a flaw in what you did, and if you let them pick out one tiny little thing and let it negate all the work you put in you’re not going to make it.

It’s only a failure if you chose not to grow from it.  I’ll be honest though, that takes A LOT of maturity, self awareness and reflection that I am still learning to deal with and process.  I am not good at taking feedback.  I am learning to get better.  It’s always easy to blame other people, it’s much MUCH harder to look at yourself and ask, “could I have given more” or “I could have been more polished.”  Not getting chosen in the final round, guys, it hurt.  It hurt more than anything because there wasn’t much of an explanation and there wasn’t any feedback so it makes it harder to process.  It’s hard to realize that even though you worked hard sometimes that’s just not enough and someone else is just more skilled.

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up.

I know now that I’m not scared to audition.  I know now that I can lead a group fitness class if that’s the route I choose to take.  I know that I need to practice a lot before I get comfortable but I can do it, I can be motivating and I do have the energy.  I know I can practice and get better and that I have people in my corner supporting me and wanting to help me improve.

Bottom line, it’s ok to do things that are scary.  They might not work out and that’s freaking ok. Comfort zones are great but nothing grows there.  Growing is painful, and all those other completely cliche things that are completely 110% true.  So whatever it is you’ve been too scared to take the leap and do, stop making excuses and just go do it.  Maybe it will work out, and maybe it won’t.

Either way at least you can say you tried.

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Sharon July 24, 2017 at 8:12 am

You ALWAYS try your best and I’m ALWAYS proud of you❤️

Anne July 27, 2017 at 10:29 am

I am so beyond impressed that you did this with no training and no help! Wow!

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