OWLS TOUR: Never a failure. Always a Lesson

It’s my birthday! Yay! Birthdays are always a good time to reminisce and reflect upon one’s life. My good friends and nakama the OWLS , the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-respect are doing another blog tour and the theme is failure. When I say failure you say Ash! Lets try it! Failure!….. ‘Ash’ Failure! ‘Ash.’ However as a clever owl once whispered: 

One of the best ways we can learn is through failure. This month we will be talking about the failures of our favorite characters in pop culture media and what we can learn from them. We will also reflect on our own mistakes and failures and how those experiences have allowed us to grow as human beings.

Rihanna has a tattoo with the words Never a Failure, always a lesson on  her upper chest. It implies that failure is never the end of a journey, it is simply a moment of feedback that is just an unexpected step towards our goals. Ironically enough that one movie Battleship that Rihanna was in… was kind of a failure.. but hey at least Rihanna knows better what roles not to take.. now that is a lesson.

Never a loss: Always Extra Experience.

Now this post will NOT be about the many many, many MANY pokémon leagues Ash lost, because his losing the Kalos League or even the Sinnoh League barely count. There is little Ash did to fail in those matches that knocked him out. On top of that after the leagues he always suffers massive memory loss, a lot of his experience and sometimes even his character gets a soft reset. Thus those league losses vanish right away. We will discuss mistakes he made that lead to failure, how these things can be overcome and how I myself fell into similar pitfalls. It’s my birthday so reflect time after all. The first still are all the battles he lost. Ash has lost a significant amount of gym battles. He lost to four of the Kanto Gym Leaders!  Ash has lost to , Brock, Lt Surge, Sabrina, Blaine, Whitney, Brawley, Roark, Lenora, Viola and Wulfric. Brock, Roark, Lenora and Viola are first gym leaders, which means of his six journeys past gyms Ash faced defeat at the first hurdle 4! times. On the first adventure he failed FOUR times arguably even five. In regards to challenges that come to the end of a journey he only lost twice….. 75% of all his poké leagues.. but again those don’t count.

Ash thusly teaches us an important lesson about failure, we learn from them. Against Brock he learns that there are things more important than winning and that there is no honour in taking the easy way out. Against Surge he learns how victory does not come in the form of strength alone, when losing against Sabrina Ash learns that things sometimes are not what they seem and eventually lead him to accept an outcome even if it isn’t the result that you want. His first battle against Blaine teaches teaches him to not give up even if things seem hopeless. Each loss, doesn’t make him weaker, none of his failures makes him ACTUALLY lose anything. Instead of a badge.. he gets something much more important.. a lesson that pushes him to the next level of being a trainer.

Never nothing:  always something.

We can learn from Ash and reflect upon our own failures. I for example have experienced my own share of losses. Whether it is at something competitive I play, the single player of a video game , up to a more substantial things like candidacy for a job or function. It seems easy to shrug off a loss in a video game , you can always try again. It feels satisfying to shrug of losing that function as “their” loss. In doing so we trivialise our failure.. we negate it as such. When we negate our own failure by justification or blame removement though, we also delete the lessons we learn. As long as I do not acknowledge that I failed to present myself in a way befitting of a function, during a job interview, there is nothing for me to gain. I have done this in the past and kept “hope”.  While it is good to keep up hope and belief in yourself, it is not good to acquit yourself of any involvement in this decision. In your life, you should not be a pawn for life to play with beyond your control.. no life moves around for you to play with.

When a pitfall activates, you can pretend like you never fell in.. or acknowledge it and study why you fell in. When you ignore it.. the status quo doesn’t change everything is like before. Trough self reflection upon failure we can learn to avoid these pitfalls and climb out as more complete people. Every defeat Ash suffered he reflected upon it. There were lessons he needed to learn. Never did he bumrush a gym in the hope to just get lucky. I for one know I trivialised my failures to often. I never took blame for not getting a job and as a result I got forced into a job that turned out very toxic for me.. something that broke me down to the core, forcing me to take blame and what was actually wrong. Finally I am being right, by acknowledging I was wrong.

Never and End: Always a Future.

Besides from the obvious form of failure, in the form of a lost matched, or negative answer there is also hidden failure. Something we do not necessarily mark as failure initially but in retrospect oftenly blame ourselves for. Opposed to the first form of ‘direct failure’ we can also have ‘retroactive failure’ in which a past action suddenly gets counted as a misplay, a mistake a failure. I am talking about the loss of a potential partner, the loss of a friend or in Ash case the release of a companion. One may argue these do not count as failures, but in it’s core Ash failed her to be the best situation for his friends. Ash could not provide the happiness that Butterfree could get elsewhere. He could not give Pidgeot the role it needed to take and he failed to provide Charizard with the strength through training it so desired.  Over the course of time Ash has let his companions down several times, whether it meant having to release them or seeming them rise up against him. He failed to acknowledge Misty’s and Serena’s feelings and had to lose them as companions, he failed to united his dream with that of his many companions. So we see people coming and going out of Ash life and while it’s natural we do see him reflect on these things. If only had done things differently.

However once again, Ash does show us how to handle this. Even if he regrets making a decision, he will accept he made that mistake and stick by it. He can not change the past and takes solace in the fact that this is better for them. Charizard gets stronger, Butterfree is happier and thanks to Pidgeot many birds are safe. We see Ash going through his process and even reaffirm it. While he misses Charizard on many occasions, there are a few times where the pair meets up again throughout the series and every time Ash sends him back again, despite claiming how much me missed and needed him.  What may seem like the end of a road for Ash and Charizard has opened a more promising future for the both of them, the same can be said for all the companions he failed to provide the ideal home for. They HAVE actually found it, just away from each other. This is where Ash identifies “Retroactive Failure” as what it actually is.. FALSE Failure.

Never Alone: Always Together

In my past I have fallen in love with a few girls and before that had a relationship with a few boys. Each time these things did not work out I asked myself .. why did I fail, what could I have done to save these things. How can I improve. There was this girl my friend nicknamed Lauren, whom I was REALLY into and I kept trying and trying to win over to me.. and at times I did succeed in making her doubt and try.. just to end up crashing and burning every time. Causing me immense heartache. When it comes to false failure… unlike with actual failure.. for some weird reason we get the need to blame ourselves. Whenever we feel down we regret these kind of things.  We talk ourselves down for not being the person they want us to be. We can deem being ourselves as failing. Yet this is never really true. While Ash could have given up his dreams for Misty or Serena’s sake.. it would be inherently not him.. as discussed in my lovers post as well. While Misty and Serena loved current Ash, he could not be with them BECAUSE he was the person he was. Had he changed for them.. he would no longer be the person they wanted. Thusly such a failure, would only trigger another form of failure and no gain can be made.  

With Lauren, I COULD have changed but in the long run I would grow unhappy and what Lauren DID like about me was my positive spirit. Lauren was quite a bit more bourgeois than me or than I could ever be and forcing myself in that lifestyle would result in me gaining a trait she wanted from me at the cost of another.. not changing the status quo. The fake failure would endure. Somethings are simply not meant to be. Just because I lost the woman I absolutely would have adored as MY girlfriend and that she was perfect for what I wanted (I could accept that SHE was Bourgeois)   clearly there still was something intrinsically wrong. By accepting this I could let go and started desiring her less.. my failure being able to convince her, became one of the smartest moves, accepting it and moving on. False failure, much like direct failure can not be accepted as the end of a journey or it will lead to big depressions. We have to move forward, there is no ‘slack water’ the tides are always moving. No matter how many people we lose or have to give up we never are alone even if fake failure can make it seem that way. When I lost Lauren, we do not see each other anymore,  I felt lost.. like my world was crumbling, I would die alone. I failed at my one chance to be happy, no one would ever love me. Then I found my pink bubble.. the insight Ash has as well. 

“My Charizard’ is a lot happier now, eating cake with grandma every sunday, which I never liked doing, in a way I made that happen. Just like Ash send charizard away, I decided to walk out so we can move on.  While I sit alone on the couch, she did make me a better person, and thusly is a part of my life. Even if I had NO friends in the world whatsoever, someone could still read my blog and take a lesson, heck even the bottle of lemonade I bought, made a clerk happy that his wage is safe, and  a factory boss happy his income is secured on a microscopic scale. We are connected to so much more people than we actually notice so we are never really alone. By believing in fake failure, we risk invalidating the people we do have around in our lives. ‘If only I could have been more Bourgeois so  Lauren would like me’ is a slap in the face to everyone who cares for actual me and it’s always more people than you think. So to prevent fake failure you just gotta be you. Failing to keep a friendship alive also does not invalidate what they did you in the past.

Never a Fact: Always a state of mind

While a failure has a negative sound to it, this negativity is always self imposed from not correctly dealing with it. Failure in its core is simply a moment of reflection. Failing to get something we want or failing to keep something we can no longer fully wok with both teach us so much about ourselves.  We trick ourselves however into believing that failure is something to cry over. Yet I shall compare failure to a Mario game. Losing a life is on a first run not persé a bad thing. You lean about that tricky goomba or koopa and think about having to get past it. Thusly you get a little better at the game and learn how to deal with obstacles.. not only that one but also  similar once. We feel like we constantly need to keep moving, go faster and race as hard as we can, anything that breaks momentum is considered a failure. However going back to Mario again, sometimes it’s better to break your momentum.. to hold off on dashing for a moment to grab that mushroom. Taking a pause and looking around allows you to grow. Failure is not a lot more then an illusion created by life, as a moment for you to grow. Failure is always a matter of perception. 

Do you play soccer just to win, then losing a match is indeed a “failure” if you want to be the best soccer player out there, losing a match is only a different step, instead of climbing the ladder, you figure out HOW to climb the ladder, yet both make you progress. In the end the guy who did not end up losing the first match, will at some point in live be handed the “bill”  their moment of introspection comes later and will lead to different results. Those without jobs might learn money isn’t everything early on and focus on having a loving family or group of friends instead but they might struggle to keep up with their friends,  like me. One of my friends chose the other route, knowledge and money first.. friends later. Now they do realise that money isn’t everything and that a job can cost you a lot. While I still struggle with money, they now struggle to get their friends attention.  In the end we are still at the same stage, even if we failed at different moments and things. So failure is mostly a negative word and a state of mind. Being the loser some duel could mean you gained more as a player thus making you the winner in terms of growth.

Never another: always yourself

Now in closing I do want to state that I do feel true failure is possible and that one is truly inline with what OWLS stand for. True failure can occur when we stop being ourselves and close ourselves off from the lessons we learn. Ash does this as well. In his first pokémon league he relies on Charizard because it is the most powerful team member for a fact. Yet Ash never won by raw strength. He outsmarted outlucked his opponent. He knew Charizard would cramp his style as he learned this lesson, against Blaine and many other fights. He allowed his pokémon to stay unevolved and he very well knew they could work as well. Yet here Ash went against what he learned from Lt Surge already, raw strength isn’t everything. Against Sabrina he learned that you also have  to have fun when battling. Ash stopped being Ash when fighting Richie and became your generic ‘Ace Trainer’ like figure. He failed because he lost himself.

In the past I tried to be a person who I was not, make friends with people only my fake self wanted to be friends because they did the popular things like clubbing and heavy drinking. I failed to be that generic type of person and have fun doing it. I failed to keep these people as my friends. Yet I also did not gain anything. Deep down always knew I was not that, so I only relearned what I already knew. I wasted many hours on people that did not really care for me and I was just a means to an end to find a drinking group more easily. I got used for my organisation talent and when I wanted something else I was discarded.  Yet when I tried reflecting , I always sort of knew we were incompatible, I was just keeping up appearances to be normal.

So if you have to feel make sure it is as you. Fail applying at a job you really want and you will get better at interviewing so you can get it next time. Fail at a job interview your parents told you to do and either you presented pooly, or it might just not be for you or deep down you never wanted this and it showed. Losing that girl your interested in will teach you, you are not as compatible as you might think, but if I pretend to be into guys or if I pose as a Normie I can’t really say if we are compatible because I am not truely that normie. And when you use a pokémon theme other people tell you to use instead of that what you choose yourself, you will never truly know what you did wrong because you were not acting like yourself.  So if there is one thing you should never fail at in life,  it is that you should never fail at being yourself.

This month blog tour is of course far from a failure itself, so check out the amazing works of the other owls. Aria went before me and you can read their text right here!
YumDeku will follow me on the 19th Or if you a curous aleady here you can go to their site instead and subscribe so you won’t miss the post!

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