Growing up in a small town, there weren't a ton of opportunities to express myself. As a non-athlete (I know you're surprised to learn this about me), there was a limited supply of extra curricular activities.
In Jr. High, I tried basketball and volleyball...then ended up starting a school newspaper. In high school, I was Class President, Editor of the newspaper...nerdy stuff like that.
But for all my attempt to fill the time, there was one place where I seemed to come alive...on the stage. Still, there weren't a ton of plays being produced in SmallTown, Illinois...so when I announced I wanted to major in theatre, I was met with that concerned furrowed brow that conveys a loud and clear message...without a single word.
This is not a smart idea.
I went on several college visits, and I remember the one that made my college choice clear. It was to Bradley University in Peoria and they let me sit in on an acting class. Up until that point, I'd done lots of shows...but I'd never actually sat in an acting class. Not like this.
The only way I can describe it is that suddenly I came alive. When the professor spoke and moved and challenged the students, my spirit kind of leapt. Like, bubbled up and almost overflowed. I'd never seen anything like it in my life. Much to parents' dismay, I'm sure, I was hooked. On this school. On that program. On the stage.
Over the course of those four years, there was one phrase that that same professor drilled into our heads...Dare to fail gloriously.
Truth be told, I'd forgotten all about it until this week...I was going about my business and I started thinking about a couple of crazy ideas I've been kicking around in the back of my head. The "What ifs" came at me hard and my anxiety skyrocketed. (I'm in the market for armpit guards if anyone knows where I can find them.)
Fear is a nasty thing, isn't it? It's paralyzing. And every time I started to get really excited about this crazy-put-myself-out-there-could-be-a-total-flop idea...I felt that fear come over me. And I know the Bible. I know all the places God tells us not fear. I know it my head...but I was having trouble getting it into my heart.
And then I remembered this phrase. Dare to fail gloriously.
A celebration of failure? Couldn't happen... and yet, in the context of theatrical rehearsal, it absolutely CAN. I mean, now that I'm directing shows...I want my kids to fail gloriously. I want them to do outlandish, crazy, might-never-work-in-a-million-years kind of things... because in those moments of throwing yourself out there...greatness comes.
You stumble upon an idea that opens up a whole new world for your character. You uncover backstory you didn't know existed. You find mannerisms or strength or motivation that wasn't there before...because you're open to it. And you're exploring. And you're searching.
And you're willing to fail.
Wow. That's powerful.
Failure doesn't have to be a shameful thing. It can be glorious if you let it. If you learn from it. If you embrace it.
So what if you try to fly and you plummet to the ground at first? Eventually, you'll find your wings.