risks > mistakes

“Take risks and be willing to learn from those mistakes” has sort of become my catch phrase over the past couple of years. Like many catch phrases, one might wonder whether the person uttering it practices what she preaches . . . at least I would.

The answer, in my case, is that I usually play it safe, especially at academic conferences (see this old blog post for hilarity). I’m typical, nothing special; I string words and sentences and paragraphs together, diligently cite my sources, and go for high theory.

I mean I did. That’s what I used to do. I don’t do it anymore, because it feels meaningless to me.

This time, I went for the mic drop.

I wanted people to feel something; my goal was pathos.

I was terrified.

I didn’t sleep well for days leading up to the presentation, because I was laying myself bare; I was exposed; I could have been judged; I could have been thrown out of the club I was trying to join.

As it turns out, and in spite of what various people who know me might allege, I really don’t like talking about myself. And I sure as shit don’t like talking about fucked up bad shit that’s happened to me.

But I read “Titanium Tits,” an essay that is half hilarious and half tragic, complete with a pretty killer slide presentation (if I do say so myself). They responded. A guy approached me the next day and said that I moved him. And that, my friends, was the goal.

In other news, I want to move to Portland (Oregon, not Michigan or Maine). It suits me.

I took a risk, and it turned out not to be a mistake, which feels pretty badass.

As for thirteen-hour travel days? No. Not badass. A huge mistake. Lesson learned.

Published by kbirdsall

I write fiction, short essays, and the occasional academic article. I teach writing at a large university somewhere in the Midwest.

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