I hate to fail. Hate it. I know there is a lesson in a lesson and a lesson in that lesson and so on, but come on. Failing is indeed a part of life, and it certainly balances out our successes – right? We wished it worked that way. Let’s truly ponder the concept of failing forward.
As #SAchats consider #FailingForward, we have to proceed with caution. I believe that the conversation is about how we get the most out of the act of mentally and emotionally failing. What amazing lessons do we learn and what perspective is gained while down? When do we risk failing to learn whatever it is we need to learn? There is a strong connection of failing to taking risks. As I have heard often, we have to take risks for greatness. However, I want us to ponder another question. When do we have the privilege to risk failing?
I grew up poor. And indeed was socialized poor. Sometimes I have to catch myself because I still claim poor, which is definitely not my truth or THE truth. I am absolutely middle class. I cannot buy everything I want, but my basic needs are all met. The way I see the world and engage in it is through a variety of privileged and oppressed lenses, which means my choices and future decisions are uniquely my own. It also means that what I risk losing is quite different than a lower socio-economic person in regards to failing. Using the class identity, the consequence of a bad investment might mean that I no longer have money in my savings account, while for some it may mean that they are not able to pay rent or buy groceries for the month. Therefore, pending socioeconomic status, is failing worth the risk? Is failure an actual option? We can ask these questions using a variety of intersecting identities.
We are not debating the richness of lessons involved in failing, but the privilege around the consequence of failing and taking risk. I am reading a book where two characters get in a fight on the school bus. They both made a conscience decision to argue and eventually get into a brawl. They are both expelled from riding the bus for a few weeks. One of the young ladies identified as middle to upper class and the other identifies as poor working class. For the middle to upper class student, her mother ends up taking her to school and it is not a big deal. However, for the poor working class student it is a tremendous ordeal on how she will get to school without public bussing because her mother has to work and has no car. In this decision making, the risk was not the same. Pending identities, some people have more to lose than others. The consequences of taking risk are not equal.
Therefore, when talking about the richness involved in failing, let’s make sure that we are critiquing situations and conversing from a lens that take into consideration both privileged and oppressed identities. This discussion is not meant to take away the lessons that exist in the experience of failing, but to add a bit more context and perspective. My hope is that we are not isolating our social justice lens to just “diversity” conversations, but utilizing it as you engaged EVERYTHING and everyone.