I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~Thomas Edison
Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~Samuel Beckett
One fails forward toward success. ~Charles F. Kettering
With our eldest finishing his second week at college, we are all quickly getting our first college failures out of the way. This is good news. It’s good to fail as quickly as you can, to learn as quickly as you can, too.
For instance: we thought we could manage without his having a cell phone. I hate cell phones on a visceral level, and they are bloody expensive, besides. And didn’t *I* manage college without having a cell phone?
But it turns out that our son does need a cell phone. Moreover, his parents need him to have a cell phone. Our 18-year-old has not yet activated the phone in his room, nor does he regularly check his email, nor does he write letters, either. Too busy, too overwhelmed, too inexperienced, too new? Whatever the reasons, we’ve been largely out of contact with him for these very important first few weeks of his college experience, and guess what? There have been some problems. Together, the three of us have failed to manage that much separation, all at once, this soon in the “growing up and leaving home” process.
Furthermore, all of his friends arrange their meals and other social activities together by cell phone. (Or on Facebook, but you can only go into so much detail with so much efficiency on Facebook. )
Turns out, too, that cell phones are herding devices, serving the same function as the call of migrating geese, who honk constantly back and forth in order to organize themselves in proper V-formation.
Who knew? We only learned all this, about cell phones, by failure.
I also learned (again) that my own successful experience (going to college without a cell phone) does not necessarily make me an expert about someone else’s experience. The problem is that I was successful in college without a cell phone. All of us were, back then, of course. But things are different now, and consequently my husband and I had something new to learn, right along with our son.
But we had to fail, first, in order to learn it.