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If Failure Weren’t An Option…


I used to work in a sales office where framed prints of inspirational quotes and majestic photographs were hung along the corridor walls: “Storms Make Oaks Take Roots,” “They Can Because They Think They Can,” “Determination Is The Wake Up Call To The Human Will” and so forth. I’m sure the Regional Director hung them as a not so subtle kick in the ass as he sent us out the door to close a deal, but even when I glazed over, staring at them from my office door, they continued to have a subliminal effect on me.

In the same vein as these motivational quotes is a familiar query making the rounds on Facebook and Instagram: “What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” This quote has always bothered me. It seems kind of taunting, perhaps because I can’t think of anything I want to try that might actually produce a failed outcome, like driving an Indy race car, or base jumping off the observation deck of the Grand Canyon.

For me, perhaps the question should read, “What would you write if you knew no one would read it?” I’m not talking about writing in a journal. By its very nature, a journal is private and not subject to public scrutiny. The rules of my journal are spelling and grammar don’t count. I know the contents of the pages will never be open for public consumption, so there’s a bland mixture of acute honesty and profoundly mundane observations. But writing a blog is putting yourself out there – literally.

 A lot of people read what I write; many more comment on my pieces, and I know I am making myself and my thoughts open to an untamed audience. When I write a post, each word is crafted specifically to allow access to only so much information. The interpretation of what is being said is up to the reader.

If no one would read what I wrote, would I write about love or passion or anger or frustration? Would I write about destiny or roads not taken? Would I call out the boy who broke my heart or the girls who teased me? Would I tell someone what I really feel? Would I let down my guard enough to let someone in? If no one would read it, does it really matter?

Keeping a journal is like keeping a secret, but writing a blog post–read or unread–is like sharing that secret. You create a witness to an experience, an event or an emotion. It becomes real… tangible. There is always the chance someone will read it; that someone will become your witness and share your experience or your emotion.

That’s what I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail. I would write something that someone might read.

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With her fresh, uncensored take on fashion and life, SARA CORNELL tells it like it is. Her topics range from how her affair ruined her life—or maybe it didn’t—to how marriage, and being single, wasn’t what she thought it would be. She’s a woman who likes studded black leather, high heels and red lipstick and practices yoga and meditation each day, rarely in the aforementioned garb. Sara writes about things we’re all thinking, but are too afraid, or too self-conscious, to say out loud. Simply put, Sara is refreshing. Sara can also be found on her blog,

5 thoughts on “If Failure Weren’t An Option…”

  1. Sara, thanks for sharing your thoughts so beautifully! Yes, it sometimes seems like we are baring our souls when we write, but I always think that, if I make a difference in even one person’s life with my words, it’s worth the effort. Our transparency draws others to us, and gives them permission to be real and vulnerable, too.

  2. I love this. I find your writing to be bold, which is why it’s so powerful. I write about many things in my life, but not everything. I don’t think I will ever be able to share my life completely. That’s a scary prospect! xo

  3. Did you know Edwin Land was the inventor of the Polaroid camera and film? When I was married to my first husband–he was a scientist and insanely curious about everything–we duplicated Dr. Land’s experiment that led to his creation of color Polaroid film. Steve Jobs once said meeting Dr. Land was like “visiting a shrine,” and he admitted modeling much of his own career after Land’s. I’ve known many brilliant, curious and successful men and have a hunch many of them feel the same way. xoxox, Brenda

    • My grandfather shared office space with Edwin Land in the 1930s in Cambridge. My mother used to tell me stories of my grandfather lending him postage and taking packages to the post office for him – many of these packages containing bits and pieces and documents and drawings of what would become the Land Camera and Polaroid film! I always loved this quote – it wasn’t until recently that I learned it was attributed to man who was very much a part of my childhood!

  4. Sara, I love your writing and I particularly enjoyed this piece. That quote makes me feel uncomfortable too because we shouldn’t be afraid to try things, just because we might fail (unless it’s could turn out to be life-threatening, of course!). I feel worse about the things I don’t try, than the ones I do. And even when something may look like a failure to others, it’s not to me because I learnt something from the experience or it led me down a path I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

    However, I know there’s a deeper message in your post and my thought is that only you can decide what is right for you to write, and what isn’t. People think they know everything about me because I write very openly – but they don’t – I think we should all decide where the line is in terms of what we share online and I know I have things that I will keep to myself forever. Esther xx

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