Growing up, my dad would always tell my sister and I, "go out and fail". Every single time I was incredibly offended.
What a mean thing for a father to say to his growing daughters, right? Why not encourage us to go out and succeed?!
Now that I'm an adult, I understand what he was saying.
I have had so many failures in my short life, I couldn't possibly count them all. From failed relationships, auditions, career choices, even diets, every failure has taught me more than I could have learned in any other version of the situation. Sure it would be great to go out and be a success in every thing I do, but what could I possibly learn from that?
One of the biggest, scariest, most uncomfortable, massive failure was making the decision to leave theatre and abandon my dreams of being on Broadway.
This isn't something I talk about often because I think I never spent the time to deal with the decision emotionally and work through all of the things I needed to work through mentally.
I sort of always knew I wasn't good enough to make it. I had a very "different" sound, I felt uncomfortable every single day of college, I wasn't very good at the dance classes and I didn't care enough to do the work or research I should have before each audition. After I graduated the seed of "I'll never make it" really started to grow, but I kept it to myself because I'm certain everyone doubts themselves at times.
It wasn't until after I had passed up every audition for almost a full year that I knew I needed to walk away. I can't remember the exact moment, I think because I had made the decision in my heart long before I let my head in on the change.
I had lost my passion. It wasn't fun. I didn't feel inspired. So I walked.
For a long time I counted myself as an absolute failure. I had a loan in my name, my father had payed towards my tuition and my mom had a loan in her name to help me pay for it. I moved all the way across the country from California to New York and put down roots all to follow this ridiculous dream. I had spent my whole entire life focused on theatre and I just always knew I'd be "a star", so actively making the decision to leave left me feeling like I had wasted my life up to that point.
Now that I'm a year or so removed from that moment, I know how important it all was to shaping who I am today. Ariel without theatre never, ever would have left her home town. I never would have moved out on my own, changed coasts or learned what it means to be an independent person.
School was tough for me. I didn't make many friends, people talked behind my back and to my face. Teachers made me cry almost every day. I even had a teacher stand me in front of class and say to me, "there is something wrong with your voice". (Turns out, the song that was too low for my voice that they forced me to squeeze out anyway gave me vocal nodes, but I digress....). With all of that, I learned how to care a little less about what others thought about be. By the time I graduated, I was no longer consumed with the opinions of others in regards to me. While living in Manhattan (at times in a not so great neighborhood) I learned to stand up for myself and how to walk with confidence.
It was a really difficult time in my life, but through it all I learned how to be me.
Sure, I walked away from a career and a very expensive college, but I'm certain that I wouldn't be where I am now without all of it.
What I considered a failure for a long time I now realize was the absolute most important experience I could have had and I will forever be grateful for every moment of it.
Please, go out and fail. Fail hard and fail big. Make yourself uncomfortable. Embrace massive decisions. And learn from every single moment.