“I don’t really know”, but that’s okay

Anyone who knows me well knows that my most ambitious and most spontaneous ideas come to me around 2 am – usually when I’m trying to catch up on much needed sleep. Today’s post is directly a result of that. Truthfully, I had no idea what I wanted to write about, but I made the fortunate mistake of watching a Russel Brand interview before attempting to sleep and I felt the need to write something.

Having just finished my midterm review for a design project I’ve been working on for the past month and a half, I felt I would frame this post in the after thoughts of my review. I’d like to focus specifically on the following words: FAILURE, REFLECTION, and MODERATION.

I spent the entire night before the review working on a model. Each piece I added made me feel accomplished, made me feel as though I had achieved something, and ultimately I was extremely excited and happy with the outcome. There is a level of attachment people feel when they produce something – rightfully so, and that’s exactly how I felt. Forty five minutes before the review my professor saw the model and said… “what is that?” Within 5 seconds my entire image of what I had created, what I had put my time and effort into, was shattered. In that moment an immediate sense of FAILURE transcended through me. The details of the conversation that followed I will spare you the pain of reading, but it was not pretty.

The reason I bring this up is because I increasingly see within my generation a phenomenon that occurs by the perception of failure. We take failure at face value. We don’t interrogate it, we don’t question it, and we don’t reflect on it. Rather, we freeze it and allow it to define the moment, and that is incredibly dangerous. In that moment I was blinded by the fact that other reviewers who were on the panel actually liked my project. It was the comment made forty five minutes earlier that stuck with me. We must see failure as a stepping stone. Something must fall for us to know that it has to stay up. We must learn to consider failure as a lesson. The stigma behind it kills creativity, and it is in our own hands to redefine it.

After reflecting on the review I realized that I learned a much broader lesson today. We constantly allow particular moments to define us. While this is only natural in the moment, what I have learned is that there is a much bigger conversation to be had about moments like this in the spectrum of our lives. But how do we identify this “bigger picture?” how do we allow the immediate impact of a comment or a moment not make us feel as though we have failed? The key here is REFLECTION. We all know what it is, we all know how to do it, we just don’t DO it. We don’t take a conscious moment to really think and reflect on the larger picture with regards to these particular moments and instances. When we reflect, we learn to connect the dots. In my review, I realized upon reflection that this was one review out of perhaps 15 I have had so far, and among 30 I will have before I graduate Architecture school. I am in school to learn, to be shown how to do things in a way I don’t already know. But without reflection, I could not possibly have realized that. The beauty of reflection is that it teaches us how to moderate our thoughts. It teaches us to rationalize our over dramatic responses to a particular moment in time.

MODERATION. I truly feel that in our ever changing world, moderation is the key to remaining human. We must learn how to balance, we must learn how to understand the scale of things relative to themselves, but also relative to other things. We must learn to moderate our experiences of the world in a way that allows us to better ourselves and make our lives well balanced. Failure must be balanced with the ambition to succeed. And in the same way, success must be balanced with our acceptance of failure. When these two ends of the spectrum are balanced, we can reach a point in our consciousness that allows for us to learn the most out of any situation. A way to critically think about our experiences, and apply our lessons to future experiences.

I welcome comments on this post as everyone will react to it differently. We must share these sorts of ideas, so that we can learn form one another, and also know that we are not alone. We are all our own, but we are also all part of something much larger. Our ability to balance this relationship is what really allows for incredible outcomes.



8 Comments Add yours

  1. Maissa Hamed says:

    I really liked this post and learned from it. It simply helped me to deal with similar “failures” perceived ones rather than real, but in a different context . Growth happenes from failure when we are able to freeze our emotions and rationalize the experience or as u rightfully point out “ reflect “ on it while divorcing our emotions from it. While emotional detachment is the right way to dissect the experience and learn what went wrong and how one could have done it better, it is very very hard to achieve this detachment at least for me. We all invest so much passion and emotion in what we do or at least some of us do, that when things don’t go right, the emotional setback is for some, overwhelming . I applaud you for keeping it in check in its right proportion through your excellent strategy of moderation. You gave me the key to step aside from this emotional baggage and look objectively so that our learning curve keeps growing rather than our disappointment. Thank you for an excellent post and a great attitude, an attitude that adheres to the Prophetic teaching that: “above every knower is one who knows more, till we reach the Only One who knows all.” We strive and learn from the successes as well as from our failures whether the latter is perceived or real and that is called growth, and maturity which result later in life when we look back into our accumulated wisdom. Thanks again for pointing the way .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your reply!

      I’m glad that a new outlook on the concept of failure has been able to redefine your understanding of it. As with anything, these types of things are a process, and learning from other’s experiences is equally as valuable as learning from your own.


  2. Stefanie Soichet's says:

    Thank you for your growing thoughts.
    One man’s failure is another man’s achievement. All depends on perspective, from where one has come and the direction one chooses to go.
    With gratitude for life & the capacity to learn one may step far…


    1. Thank you for your reply Stefanie!

      Absolutely! Something we do a lot is assume that everyone is coming from the same perspective, and that is simply not possible. Once we realize that everyone’s opinion is through a particular lens, we can begin to understand the broader picture.


  3. Kira Morgan says:

    As an educator, this is what we strive to teach, but often it only really comes with experience and perspective. It’s particularly difficult because children aren’t given many opportunities to fail, and learn from that failure, so when they experience it as students or even as professionals, they lack the tools to deal with it. I’ve failed far more than I’ve succeeded, which makes the successes so much sweeter.


    1. Thank you for your comment Kira!

      I think the most interesting part of your response is your concluding sentence. What we have to learn to do is to measure success not in terms of material gain, or financial freedom, but rather as success over failure. Great!


  4. Ms. B. says:

    I was very much taken by ZuluEcho’s reflections in the early hours of the morning. I concur with the processes of thought undertaken and imagined a subtle “architectural” model emerging to help us organize our thoughts and build a sturdy way to view our so-called failures. It shows strength to NOT react in the moment and review afterwards rather than assuming what someone says is the ultimate truth, professor or not. And that same teacher might wish to reflect upon his/her own choice of words when building a relationship of trust with a student, a better “architecture” let’s call it for the purpose of asking the student to take a deeper look rather than demolishing creativity on the spot.

    Thank you for your reminder that all of us need to REFLECT and not REACT too soon.


    1. Thank you for your response Ms. B!

      I love your use of “architecture” not as a structure of the built environment, but rather as an architecture of the consciousness. A different way to structure our thought process. Fantastic!


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