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You are Probably Never Going to Happen Again

People talk about trying new things in a way that makes it seem like there is some hidden virtue inherent in the concept, a virtue only evident to those who have tried enough new things. While I do not know anything about the moral qualities of trying new things, I believe that it is imperative for opening the mind, and for the growth of one's pool of knowledge, opinions and preferences; who knows, the new ice cream flavour may finally replace strawberry as your favourite.


For some of us, trying new things can be scary rather than adventurous - sometimes the trade off just doesn't add up. Interestingly, there is something that often can be even more unpleasant than trying new things - the absolutely revolting idea of retrying something that didn't really work out the way you wanted it to, and especially something that you definitely did not like before.


Songs often talk about giving love another try, and films often talk about other things in life similarly. Travel the world. Embark on a spiritual journey. Rekindle old friendships on better notes, or give another chance to friendship with new people. Actually, some things I have done throughout this year have been in consonance with this theme - a few months ago, I decided to give a few things, like writing, art, and even my profession, which I was sure I hated, another try. Here's what I learnt.


Convincing yourself to retry things is important because... it may have surprisingly interesting consequences. For example, shortly after I left my first, toxic, workplace, and after reluctantly reopening myself to opportunities pertinent to both similar and varied roles, I found a dream-like workplace, too good to be true, and it led to a whole lot of other great experiences - is the short story, because I also got rejected by many other institutions and places that I applied to. But this composition is not about perseverance or serendipity. It's simply about the notion of retrying.


While it makes a lot sense to learn from your mistakes, it doesn't necessarily mean avoiding things altogether. Perhaps another approach could be to identify things - isolated things and interacting things, blatantly obvious things and inconspicuous things - that may have caused you to have a bad experience during an activity instead of shunning the activity forever. Further, you could use new information derived from reflecting on the bad experience, using it to adapt or to be more careful while you give the activity another try. If you've had a bad relationship for instance, you may want to identify a mismatch of qualities in your partner and yourself, or a difference in outlook - you get the idea - rather than avoiding the prospect of romance, love, dating, and related ideas, altogether because you're scared of failing again.


Speaking of failing, and this applies to both trying and retrying, I think a major misconception ingrained in us is the dichotomy of succeeding and failing - scoring above a certain level in a test is success, and being unable to do it is failure. Continuing a relationship is success, breaking up a failure. But who decides the criteria to situationally define success or failure? In Mathematics problems, even finding a defective lightbulb in a manufacturing lot is a success. Also, if it is possible for success or failure to have different definitions situationally, how is it even dichotomous? Maybe from a single point of view it is, but why would one assume that they are limited by a single point of view in the first place? Why not recognize more than one of the infinite ways to look at a situation and guage its success or failure, and then try to understand, what is the failure that we're so afraid of - is it really as bad as it seems?


While Luke Dunphy would say, "All these bad thoughts are holding you back, so how do we get rid of these bad thoughts? We shoot them out," it's often not easy to follow his advice. Failure, pain, contrition, and a plethora of similar feelings are hard to deal with, especially when we feel that they stem from our imperfections; and the truth is not that our imperfections do not matter, but that waiting for perfection would most likely to lead to getting nothing done. Sometimes it may be much better to put together many imperfect things and to treat it all as practice, getting better in the process. Retry things even if they did not go perfectly the first time, and you may have a better experience - or not, but you would have gained insights, perhaps even clarity, about your life or prospective decisions, or just made some interesting memories if nothing. Some people would absolutely count this as a success.


Our imperfections, our responses to stimuli, and our memories make up a lot of who we are. While people very, very similar to you may come and go, YOU are probably never going to happen again. In embracing the many possibilities behind the facade of a failure, you allow yourself to be interesting to yourself and others. You allow yourself to grow. Most importantly, you allow yourself to be.




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