A Conversation About Failure


From: Jane P. Chung
Subject: “Are you happy?”
Date: March 11, 2011
To: Jasmine Star

I don’t know if you remember, but the last time we worked together at Pelican Hill, you stared me straight in the eye and asked me if I was happy. Ever since you asked me that – and I don’t get asked that often – I’ve been asking myself that daily. Not because I’m not happy, but just because it remains with me as such a profound gut check.

X put me in contact with Y at Flower Company and I’m going to be starting as her assistant in April. It all happened so fast in the span of a few days but when Y actually offered me the job, instead of jumping for joy for the gig of my dreams at the moment, I found myself completely paralyzed with fear. Fear of change, fear of the lost of security, fear of failure – big fat Fear with a capital F. (And frankly, the fear of the drive from Los Angeles to Newport Beach daily. :)) It occurred to me that as I stood on the cusp of a cliff I’ve been wanting and waiting for, I suddenly wasn’t sure I wanted to jump at all. It boggled my mind. Then I thought of you, your story, and your advice to be true to yourself and to speak your hopes and dreams aloud. I realized I’m so blessed to even have this opportunity come at a time when I could make the career change but most importantly, that there is a great possibility that I’d be able to answer a resounding YES if ever asked again about my happiness.

here’s to endless optimism for your dream home on the beach…

From: Jasmine Star
Subject: RE: “Are you happy?”
Date: March 12, 2011
To: Jane P. Chung

you. oh, you.
i’m so, so darn proud of you! this is it! this is what we’ve been waiting for. yes, i made it plural because i am so sure of you.
and, i hate to break it to you, failure is going to come. without a doubt. but failure comes in whatever path you choose in life and, really, it’s how you deal with failure that makes you a success. and happy. trust me…i speak from experience.
and–oh emm gee–that commute is going to suck. horribly. but if you love what you do, then it doesn’t matter. and maybe you can work east coast hours and avoid the madness on the freeways. or whatever.
yes, you are blessed. know this. embrace this. cherish this.
at the end of the day, it’s better to have tried and failed, than to have lived your life in a constant state of what-if. get those hands covered in pollen, girl…THIS. IS. IT!!!!!!!!!!!
lah-lah-love you,

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  1. Brian Bulemore

    March 20th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for this little gem Jasmine…just what i needed as I am currently on a trip toIndia making efforts at street photography and portraiture in some of the most challenging surroundings and circumstances I’ve ever been in…and have had quite an experience of some intense "fails". the few and far between successes have been enough to keep me going! The reminder about living rather than living in fear and what ifs was perfectly timed …thanks…you rock!

  2. Isaac Stott

    March 20th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    This sounds an a lot like someone I know. Isn’t weird how sometimes we can fear success more than we fear failure. Thanks for sharing, and Jane, I know you will tear up the flower world (or whatever flower folks say for doing an awesome job:)

  3. Kaylee Sizemore

    March 20th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    life is a journey, a work in progress…

  4. angel

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Pure awesomeness!

  5. Brittani

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    =) Awesome. Very inspiring. This is great, and I’m glad you posted it J. ♥

  6. Brittani

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    =) Awesome. Very inspiring. This is great, and I’m glad you posted it J. ♥

  7. Stephanie Saul

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    "It is how you deal with your failure that makes you a success." I LOVE this Jasmine! I’m going to steal it and use it sometime in the near future πŸ˜‰

  8. Noa

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Yes, yes, YES!!! Making the leap is flippin’ scary!!!! Its even scarier when you have a family to provide for. But you know what, Jane? Its so worth it, beyond your wildest imagination. Reading J*’s blog a year and a half ago changed my life and caused me to do the scariest thing in the world – follow my dreams. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t pinch myself and say "I am so lucky. and blessed". Follow your dreams, sister…. Dream big and then bigger. I’m rooting for you!!!


  9. ami

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I’m on a similar road, so Jane, you’re not alone! I was offered a career-defining promotion at my job — a great job if you love working in my field — but instead I sat down with my boss and told him that I needed to decline. Because I want to be a photographer. After that, I have had the occasional freakout, like, "Oh, crap, what have I DONE? What if this doesn’t work out? What am I going to DO?" But really, what if I hadn’t done it? I would have regretted that more. I’m so afraid to fail, but happier than I have been for a very long time. I’d be happier failing at this than succeeding ten fold at my day job. So I figure that must be a good sign, right?? I’m walking right along with you. Here’s to pursuing our dreams. You can do it!!

  10. Adriana Morett

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Dear J*.
    Thank you. You have no idea how big an inspiration you can be for people whom you’ve never even met. I love this blog, and your writing style, and your photographic style, so much!!
    Thank you.

  11. Robert

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    "Then I thought of you, your story, and your advice to be true to yourself and to speak your hopes and dreams aloud."

    Here this … thanks and I’m way past the point where this should have mattered — but, I’m going to try it again!

    Thanks Jasmine … I’m going out on a limb and saying I know you’ll get that house on the beach … it’s a strong limb!

  12. Ashley Terry

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you, Jasmine. This could not have come at a more perfect time. Yesterday I launched my own Showit photography website, and boy is it scary. But that is nothing compared to the fear of looking back and wondering what might have been. Without your daily dose of inspiration, I’m not completely sure I would have taken this step. Thank you.

  13. Shauna

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Oh thank you so much for sharing this, Jasmine…

    I read this post at the exact right moment…Today I have a HUGE meeting with another photog in town that wants to refer weddings.. to ME.. little ‘old me… I don’t even have a wedding portfolio yet! His kind words and compliments truly blew me away. When I got his initial message I was jumping up and down with glee.. this is the break I NEED! but then today while waiting to go meet him.. there have been moments where I feel like a huge imposter.. terrified about what this could all mean for me.. am I really good enough?? am I ready for this?? am I good enough?? *stomach flipping and seething* maybe I shouldn’t be doing this… could I do this?
    Of course I can. This is my dream… the universe is coming together in amazing ways for me.. sometimes it’s just hard to see through the Fog of Fear (or FOF as I like to call it ;).
    Keep reminding us chicky… love your reality checks. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting with destiny πŸ˜€

    Shauna xo

  14. Christina Dely

    March 20th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Fantastic post! And on a Sunday too! Gasp! πŸ™‚ I think this is something that SO many of us can relate to.

  15. Raquel

    March 20th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing this personal story! There are so many of us that have BIG dreams and let fear keep us paralyzed. I am working hard at making my dream a reality, and it’s always reassuring to know you’re not alone.

  16. Raquel

    March 20th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing this personal story! There are so many of us with BIG dreams that are paralyzed by fear. I made a big step recently in overcoming that fear and appreciate people like you who remind us that we’re not alone.

  17. Tanya De Leeuw

    March 20th, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Fear of Failure.

    I am Familiar with that Feeling … in Fact, I’d call it my Friend.

    On my journey into Photography, though, I see that my Future is bright and I know I’ll Flourish!

    Glad I’m not alone on this road!

    Thanks for sharing, Jane & Jasmine!

  18. ashley barnett

    March 20th, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Ah yes, this is what I needed to see today πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  19. dee

    March 20th, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    wow. what a powerful blog post!

    I have to be honest and say that it made tears come to my eyes. Gosh.

  20. kelsey {las vegas wedding photographer}

    March 20th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I must remember to ask myself this often!

  21. Elizabeth at Seaport Photo

    March 20th, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Dear Jasmine…I want to buy one of the first (signed!) copies of the book you have to write…you are more inspirational than you will ever know…and I’ve read way more than my share of "self-help" books! Looking forward to your CreativeLive workshop coming up in Seattle…we’ll try to arrange sunny weather for you while you’re here.

  22. Tammynize

    March 20th, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Your message is always so inspirational. You touch hearts. Thanks Jasmine.

  23. Erika C

    March 20th, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Big Huge Smile!!!! That’s what this post brought to my face. You rock my creative world :0)

  24. life with k

    March 20th, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    happiness overload.
    love this.
    la-la-la-love it.

  25. Lydia

    March 20th, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I’m ready to take some risks this week!

  26. Columbus GA Photography

    March 20th, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Pretty awesome story. Best of luck to you Jane!

  27. monica ouziel

    March 20th, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    heard in a song today "if you want to kiss the sky you gotta learn how to kneel" this lyric in the song says it all life throws us curveballs and we can choose to run with a new ball or stay out in left field. Amazing possibilities lie ahead and waiting for me. Happiness means living in the moment and as Jim Quinn used to say everyone wants flowers give to others and most of all give them to yourself!

  28. nadean

    March 21st, 2011 at 12:06 am

    LOVE your passion in everything you do Jasmine!!

  29. Anh

    March 21st, 2011 at 2:23 am

    This post brought tears to my eyes. πŸ™‚

  30. Lloyed Valenzuela

    March 21st, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Inspiring!!! Good luck Jane…i can relate in sooo many ways.

  31. Jessica Sweeney

    March 21st, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Oh yes, Jane and Jasmine, this is a great reminder! Sometimes I AM afraid of success, because it brings with it so much responsibility. But with confidence, and hard work, it is a true blessing.

    Thanks for the reminder. And for keeping it real.

  32. Katelyn James

    March 21st, 2011 at 3:51 am

    ya know… I have an email like this from you….back when I hosted my first basic workshop during college and I had a FREAKOUT because I was convinced that I WAS NOT qualified to teach ANYTHING to ANYONE…..well, I JUST hosted my 2nd workshop YESTERDAY…..with 18 wonderful photographers from the 3 different states and I must say…… you deserve some credit my dear! a lot of credit…..thank you for encouraging me when really, you had no reason to. Before I was your bride…. before I had any "money shots" in my portfolio…. before I had a pretty little blog….. you believed in me and you’ll never know the impact that has had…. thank you friend:) xoxo

  33. kay*

    March 21st, 2011 at 4:02 am

    this is a wonderful wonderful reminder and couldn’t be more timely.

    i’m reading this as i sit halfway around the world from my family and friends. me in Delhi, India and everything familiar back home in Toronto. i’m on day 4. still in training. will be working as a paid volunteer. it’s something i’ve wanted to do for a long time and sometimes, as i sit here i think "what the HECK am i doing…am I sure…am I happy…" but like Jane I’m blessed to be at a point in my life where I can accept this opportunities and embrace them. like you said in your response to Jane – it’s better to have tried and failed than have embracing this culture so very different than my own. and i’ll remember this post.

  34. Sarah Danaher

    March 21st, 2011 at 5:17 am

    jasmine, you’re precious.

  35. LEOLAK

    March 21st, 2011 at 5:48 am

    Wow….you’ve made me cry…again!! Thanks for sharing…Jane…congratulations and much luck to you in getting to achieve your dream! You are certainly not alone in feeling the fear, but you give hope to me (and others) to just push pass that fear and go for my dream.

    Jasmine…"it’s how you deal with failure that makes you a success" AND "it’s better to have tried and failed, than to have lived your life in a constant state of what-if"…thank you for this constant reminder said in so many different ways…I’m getting closer to letting go of my fear to reach my dream…I can’t ignore the happiness that comes over me with a camera in my hand. Thank you for your continued inspiration.

  36. Shuva Rahim

    March 21st, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Inspiring indeed… Good for her πŸ™‚

  37. Kristin Nicole

    March 21st, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Love this….I needed that reminder

  38. Bill Raab

    March 21st, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I think there is a little bit of all of us in what Jane shared. I definitely know that is true for me.

    I tend to always love the journey more so than the destination. In my case my fears about any shoot do not kick in until it "is time". I don’t think those fears will ever go away for me. Quite honestly I hope they don’t. They keep me on my toes and I do not let them overwhelm me, that would be the worst thing I could let happen. I have to keep pushing through my fears if I am going to grow and if I am going to realize more and more of the vision that I have and make materialize.

    Good luck Jane. Never let fear stop you from chasing your dream.

  39. rich

    March 21st, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    jasmine, you inspire so many people daily – thank you for always helping us to see more and push further!

  40. Abbey

    March 21st, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    J*, you are just ball of positive energy. I hope you realize that you were put here on this earth to inspire other. And you do it soo well. Thank you for opening up your heart to us. I’m soo sad that I missed you when you were up in CT last week. I pray that I get to meet you in the near future!

  41. Tanya A.

    March 21st, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Thank you. THIS is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. Thank you Thank you Thank you!! πŸ™‚

  42. April Cenora

    March 22nd, 2011 at 1:01 am

    J*, You are a true inspiration to a new name in the industry. Your positive energy makes completely inspires me. Thank you for this post, it really hit home. :-}

  43. Staci

    March 22nd, 2011 at 1:41 am

    What a great post! I was once asked, "What makes you happy outside of your job?" And I had to sit and think about it. I was at the end of my grad. school journey where I worked while I went to school and literally would go to class in the morning, work till whenever work was done, then homework and before you know it, it was midnight and I was at it again. It pained me to realize that I hadn’t thought about what else made me happy…and that I had to THINK about what should have been such a simple question. I try to visit this question every once in awhile because it really helps me gain perspective on life and how I want to live it πŸ™‚

  44. Jenna Danelle

    March 22nd, 2011 at 4:54 am

    I am soooo terrified about starting up with this photography thing… I’ve had a pretty SOLID career as a drug and alcohol counselor for 6 years! I loved it, yes… But I love my husband more, and he is active duty military – so we move, constantly! Which means I have to re-take state board exams to get licensed to practice every time we move! It’s a year process, and is rediculas, I get no where fast in my career like this! Photography makes me happy, very happy, so I’ve given up solid and amazing income, for a part time barely pay my minimum payments on my bills kinda job to pursue this DREAM and get my business up and running! I’m terrified! Daily. I’m struggling really badly. But I’m happy with what the future can bring me if I WORK really hard at this! Thank you for sharing. I need inspiration on a regular basis – you are my guiding * for sure! <3

  45. Marcia

    March 22nd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    J* you forever rock!!!!!!! I’ve admired you for so long. the courage and fierceness you constantly share is the reason you continue to grow so darn huge…. Love you girl πŸ™‚

  46. Lyle

    March 23rd, 2011 at 1:18 am

    Wow…this is so true…failure will come but how you deal with defines character.

  47. feuza

    March 23rd, 2011 at 2:36 am

    I don’t want to live a life paraylized by fear, nope,

  48. Bobbie Brown

    March 23rd, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Love this.

  49. Yvonne

    March 23rd, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    You Rock!! Seriously! πŸ™‚

  50. Faith Bowyer

    March 24th, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Love this. I’m in the same type of position as Jane right now, but regarding photography (not flowers), and I needed to hear (errr read) this right now. Thanks for this post.

  51. Cate

    March 24th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer far away in Moldova and I had what I thought was such a great idea for a project… and it failed. I’m not very good at handling failures so I appreciate this post!! πŸ™‚

  52. linda

    March 24th, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Asking yourself if you are happy on a regular basis is definitely something we forget to do especially amongst the busyness of our lives. It is this simple task that keeps us aware of finding ways to be happy when we’re not, cutting out things that make us unhappy, and appreciating all the things we have that make us happy and getting more of that. It helps us to evaluate our state in life to make it the best possible. I’m realizing it’s easy to let fear take over even our most joyous moments but our strength and love that overcome that. Best of luck Jane in letting the fear come second to pursuing your dream!

  53. Michael

    March 25th, 2011 at 12:37 am

    This idea of failure is resonating with so many spheres right now. There is a conference on failure just for pastors/leaders coming up next month.

  54. Erkin Ağsaran

    April 1st, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    "at the end of the day, it’s better to have tried and failed, than to have lived your life in a constant state of what-if"
    I think I’ll be quoting this πŸ™‚

  55. Abby Grace Photography

    April 28th, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    This is a crazy encouraging/horribly depressing post for me to read right now. Only depressing because I envy her freedom to do what she’s done. But crazy encouraging because I’m praying I’m less than a year from being able to do the same.