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Against The Current’s Chrissy Costanza: “There Is Power In Failure, And I’d Like To Stop Wasting It”

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 30 October 2017 at 15.10

Chrissy opens up in her latest column. 

Failure is the key to success. It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? You look at successful people and their surface is immaculate and perfectly put together – they have it all together. Of course, we hear the stories of the battles they fought to get to where they are now, but even those seem romanticised and poetic through the lens of hindsight.

I’m a perfectionist, but not in a way that you might think. My handwriting is terrible, my room can be a disaster at times, and half the time my T-shirts are wrinkled. So when you think of that type A, anally neat and put together perfectionist, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the kind of perfectionism that keeps you up at night because the fear of failure is crushing your soul and poisoning your mind. It’s a kind of perfectionism that eliminates the grey area and turns the world into success or failure: win or lose, live or die. It’s crippling, and it destroys me. It inhibits me from being happy or even content, it can ruin the things I love the most.

The idea that failure is the key to success was okay for other people, but I could never apply it to myself. We all need to be a little less hard on ourselves.

I hate letting people down, and touring is gruelling. We’re in the middle of a tour in Asia as I type and we’re on a plane every two days. Sleep is the most important thing, but the thing we get the least of. When we tour Europe or the U.S. we’re crammed 10 to 12 people in a bus for two months at a time. Often, I end up getting sick. Losing my voice is the most discouraging and defeating feeling in the world. I could have done everything right – drank lots of water, slept as much as possible, even worn a mask to try and prevent catching any germs – and still get sick. It’s just near impossible to stay fully healthy on the schedules we live on.

Despite doing everything I could have to stay healthy, I failed anyways. It destroys me. Not being able to sing kills me, and having to cancel shows is the biggest failure of them all. At the other end of both scenarios are people who paid to come to our show, and I let them down. No matter how hard I tried, I still let them down. Often in times like these I shut down, hide in my bunk or hotel room, and avoid eye contact with anyone. Hearing people say before we even start a tour, “Hopefully you won’t get sick this time,” causes dread to flood through my body. Even if I’m not sick, and just have a bad show, I shut down, hide and stop talking.

I’m learning that this isn’t okay. I’m learning that I’m human, I’m imperfect and despite my best attempts at being my best, I will still fail to get there sometimes and that is just perfectly fine. But bullying myself isn’t fine at all. That’s not how we learn. When I get sick, I try and determine why I got sick in the first place. I’ve been working with a vocal coach to be able to sing through sickness. I have a whole ‘sick kit’ that I pack in my suitcase nowadays, so I’m fully prepared when it inevitably happens.

When I have a bad show, I assess what was bad and whether or not it was in my control. If there were technical problems beyond my control, I can’t beat myself up over them. If it was my own fault, I try and determine how to avoid it in the future, and ask what I could have done differently. These failures contain much more information than successes do, and instead of using my failures to my advantage I hid from them for so long.

Getting sick and being unable to perform aren’t the extent of this for me – it bleeds into everything. Even writing this article, I fear that what I write is of no interest or help to anyone, so think that I shouldn’t even bother. But fear of failure is public enemy No. 1 for me. Our failures are the bricks that build our castles. The more shots we take, the more misses we’ll have but eventually, the more hits as well.

So now I’m trying to take every shot, to get up and face a crowd when I’m feeling defeated, and stay in the mindset that I can work through it. I’m learning that failure truly is the key to success. There is power in failure, and I’d like to stop wasting it.

You can find this colomn in the latest issue of Rock Sound! Pick up your copy from HERE

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