A Natural at Failing: Part I – By @mjclacroix

By Matthew La Croix


A Natural at Failing: Part I



At Reflections I presented a slide from a masterclass by Patrick Collister ‘Fail Fast’, I said because I’m at natural at it. I wasn’t joking, I fail at almost everything. You could almost say I was a failure.

I fail at time management. My time keeping is so poor my family lied and told me our flight was four hours earlier than the departure time. I’ve missed numerous flights, my best friend’s wedding in Munich because I fell asleep on the train to the airport, once a day late because I booked the ticket for 24 hours later, Stansted instead of Gatwick. 


I failed in Orchestra in Cologne. I stayed up all night with my cohort but carried on to a frisky German’s apartment. Instead of giving me a blue Viagra, unbeknownst to me he hospitably gave me a blue ecstasy pill, and was nightmarishly high up and down all the way through Dvorzak’s cello concerto in front of 500 people.


I failed when I worked in the city in a trade finance role I was wildly and wholly underqualified for. Selling lease and loan deals to the government’s new business bank, I transferred £1billion by accident because I slipped the zeros in the catastrophic wrong place.     

Working at an art magazine I terminally offended one of our biggest patrons by mistyping passive-aggressively ‘P—, I have just paid your ‘precious’ invoice’ instead of your ‘previous’ invoice, and as an extra own goal, a mesmerising fail in my cash flow meant writers couldn’t get paid. 


Upwards and onwards. Photographing and archiving Zaha Hadid’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures, I – oops – spilled coffee on the original, unique one and only design of the un-built ‘Tomigaya House’, and had to roll it up in my swimming towel to smuggle it out lest Zaha saw me and I pay with my life or manhood. 


On Erasmus exchange in New York I failed at that too. I went with money, (this is a regrettable trend) but – who knew? New York is fast and expensive. I stayed with a Jewish academic friend of a friend in the upper west side while I searched for a place living the Woody Allen high life. I met ballet dancers, theatre directors, 90’s pop stars, sexy New Yorkers, this was exciting for a gay boy from Shropshire. Alas it came somewhat as a bump when, fast forward two months, I sat on the rooftop of my china town slum beneath Manhattan Bridge looking at $4 in my account. Do I buy an American XXL sized bag of pasta? Or some single cigarettes from my friend at the bodega? There was a fireworks display on the Hudson as I went to buy my cigarettes. I had another two months until I crawled back to London. 

I failed at the Royal College. I won prizes and a fellowship on graduation, but for two years all I did was destroy my work and feared criticism until I couldn’t make anything that cost less than £2,000 to fabricate, and chose to have my heart broken by (another) German instead.


I left school with 12 GCSE’s in sincere mis-trust of authority, an innate urge to do the opposite of what I’m told, and a discern for the worst in everyone.


I fail at relationships. Exes consistently upgrade to better versions of me. The ‘boyfriend’ I thought I was currently ‘seeing’ (these definitions are subjective in 2019 homosexual London) whom I desperately liked, has, fair to say, changed my life, but hasn’t spoken to me since a business trip abroad. But then I don’t have three houses, or an Oscar, like his exes. Such is life. 

I failed at being a brother, I broke my collarbone in two places at my sister’s wedding. I tried not to take all the attention but it had broken skin, and needed 8 screws. 


I failed at being a good son, too. I’ve failed at being a good uncle. I’ve failed catastrophically at being a good friend, and partner. I failed at sobriety. I failed at abstinence. 


In the past I’ve failed at being happy. I failed to see the good in people. 


I failed to see a future. I failed at hope. I failed to recognise myself. 


I failed at self-care. I failed my well-being, and I failed to see value in my life.  


But for those that see themselves as failures too, there’s great news, you’re in good company

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