Have you ever made a decision in a moment and immediately regretted it?
There's this great trick where you can run up behind a person, place your hands on their shoulders while jumping and push yourself up and over the top of them.
When executed correctly, it's the perfect marriage of low-level danger and basic acrobatics.
One element that's really important in negotiating this maneuver is the awareness from the individual that is about to be jumped over that they are in fact part of this stunt.
When I was in my young 20's I was hanging out with some dear friends walking around downtown Sacramento. We had just had a great meal, spirits were high and we felt like we could conquer the world. I was drunk on youth, community and exuberance.
In this head space I decided to celebrate by executing the jump that I've discussed above. Now, my two friends walking ahead of me were very different heights. Erik is 6'3" and Carly is 5'5". I decided that jumping over Carly made a lot more sense and when the crowds in front of us cleared I broke into a jog ready to feel truly alive.
As I reached about 5 feet behind Carly and was engaging my stutter step to transition into a leap I realized that I maybe I should have told her a bit of my plan. She turned slightly to learn more about the stampeding feet rushing behind her.
What happened next could only be described by the people on the opposite side of the street as an awkward mugging from a disgruntled member of Cirque du Soleil's B-Team.
The laughing and chatting was replaced by a strained silence as I helped Carly up from the ground that I had just shoved her into. Instead of using my momentum to launch over Carly, it was all channeled into shoving her down and forward. I had then only been able to piggy back her into the ground like cowboy lassoing and wrestling a calf. I was facing a lot of really logical questions that had no good answers.
"What were you thinking?"
"Were you going to warn her beforehand?"
"Who are you?"
"You suck." ((Not a question, but a fair critique))
I had failed in that moment and all the joy was replaced by questions from others and from within me. I had always considered myself the kind of person who makes fun times even more fun, but what if I wasn't? What if I was selfish and valued my experience over the experiences of others? What if I had ruined the night and drove a wedge in between my friends and me? ((My friends were very gracious and understanding and this story quickly became a hilarious part of our lives together))
Failure, whether big or small, brings about questions of identity. It almost always causes us to mourn the death of a version of ourselves that we don't believe exists anymore. These might be tiny deaths or they can feel like the complete death of self.