Friday, November 14, 2014

Paralyzing Fear in Marilyn Bushman-Carlton's "So She Wouldn't Fail"

Everyone has fears of the unknown, sometimes causing us from taking chances and chasing after our dreams. In “So She Wouldn’t Fail” by Marilyn Bushman-Carlton, she writes of a woman who puts her trust in the average things in the world to avoid the bitter taste of failure.

            So she wouldn’t fail at something big,
            she kept busy doing average things,

            things she wasn’t ashamed to talk about,
            exactly, things she could always say
            were temporary, and just until she found
            what it was she was really mean to do, or be.

She uses imagery in a couple different stanzas to express and illustrate the feelings and thoughts of the character she centers her poem around. For example, “She could see herself shut inside / an office, skin wrung out and gray, / feet itching inside three-inch heels” which illustrates a tone of dread and a dismal outlook on what the future could hold for her. The title of the poem “So She Wouldn’t Fail” also adds to the motif of avoiding risks and chasing dreams. But instead playing it safe, which leads to misery, unhappiness and wasted potential.

This poem reminded me of some wasted opportunities in my life that I should have taken but did not because of fear. I could connect with some of the feelings and thoughts of the character, because I have had similar musings myself. Sometimes I subject myself and settle for mediocrity for the fear of failure, or the fear or stepping out into the unknown. This poem truly highlights the aspect of human nature that fears the unknown and settles which is more comfortable and easy. And this settling leads to a state of unhappiness and regret that their lives are not fulfilling. I have had plenty of those moments of regret for not taking advantage of some of the opportunities that life has given me.

This poem can resonate with Mormons because it highlights the potential of a soul and why we are truly here. We are here to learn and progress, and not rest on our laurels. We have a divine potential that only grows as we fail. Because the character tries to avoid failure, she is only wasting her potential and stunting her progression. This poem reminded me of the fact that failure is necessary and I shouldn’t stop chasing goals and dreams because of the paralyzing fear of failure. 

(401 Words)


  1. I like your tie-in to Mormon culture. I think it's absolutely true that we see settling for mediocrity as bad or negative. The Mormon view of growing and becoming better day to day so as to reach our full potential is unique, I think, because we believe that whatever we gain in this life in knowledge or ability will rise with us in the next life.

  2. I think that this poem can resonate with most of the human population. I really enjoyed your analysis of it and think that the connection you made to LDS culture was very strong. It is one of our major core concepts that we are here to learn, grow, and experience, which you made really clear in your post.