Drive, Passion, and the Apathetic

I hear the same phrase (in any number of variations) everywhere I go and in everything I do:

“Just forget about that last one, move on to the next.” 

People who say this largely just don’t want you to become discouraged or upset, which is a nice sentiment, but the phrase speaks to a fundamentally counter-productive mindset.

Should we wallow in our mistakes and allow them to control us? Never, but how can you learn if you don’t pay attention to your mistakes? How can you improve if you ignore your shortcomings? How can you succeed if you forget about your failures?

Losses should burn. Coming up short should be torture. Mistakes should be frustrating. As I said before these shouldn’t cause you to lose focus or self-destruct; that would be just as counter-productive as trying to forget what happened. However, if you truly care about the task at hand, these will likely be a core part of your experience and motivation moving forward.

That being said it is admirable to be able to laugh at your mistakes, but there is a stark difference between keeping your cool and general apathy. Some people simply don’t care all that much, which is fine. What isn’t fine is spreading it to those who want nothing more than to learn from their experiences, develop their skills, and excel at whatever they do.

“Just forget about that last one, move on to the next” is a generally apathetic phrase used by generally apathetic people; it is not helpful and it is not constructive. Apathetic people shrug it off and the rest resent its utterance.

I write about this not simply because this phrase frustrates me (which it does) but also because I feel there is this popular concept out there that being bothered by something in this way is stupid. It seems that so many people are quick to say that you shouldn’t be upset or frustrated, as if such a feeling is overly negative or an undue burden.

It is very important to have a thick skin and to avoid over-thinking lest you create problems where there are none, but it is not an advantage to go through life without caring about anything in this way. It is not “cool” to avoid simple passions or “smart” to do so because they may lead to pain or failure. It is pain that gives value to pleasure and failure that makes success so sweet.

Being passionate about anything means that you will almost certainly, at some point, be upset by it. This is not “weird” nor is it a weakness, but it seems that many will rush to say that it is both.

This is the problem with that phrase. It assumes that someone’s frustration is unfounded and dismisses it as unnecessary. It is an apathetic phrase that offers apathy as a "solution" to a problem the speaker doesn’t even try to understand. It is not productive and neither is the mindset that supports it. It trivializes drive and rejects passion.