Meeting with Failure

Failure is at the beginning of all success; it’s how we learn and grow”, I used to tell my students, “Don’t be afraid of failure; be afraid of not trying“, I would say. But how did I honestly perceive my own failure? What did I still need to learn? It’s easy to read these quotes and even believe them, but do we actually practice at failure? Just imagine, setting out a plan and following it, knowing you’re going to fail at some part of it? Maybe all of it, but at some point there has to be failure or there is no growth. And I believe we are always learning and growing. I don’t think we come to a complete understanding of anything until we have failed–often more than once–at what we are trying to achieve. This will be a difficult concept to grasp especially if we are perfectionists because a perfectionist doesn’t have the capacity to accept failure. I place myself in this group as I have always shuddered at my own failure. To fail was a reflection of me as a person, on my being. My perception of reality did not include failure. It’s like the shame vs. guilt argument. Instead of thinking, “I failed, now what can I learn from that; how can I make it right?”, I think, ” I am a failure; it is part of who I am, not what I do.” When, in fact, the exact opposite is true.

Failure is still very difficult to accept, but so is success. What a conundrum I live in. I have mentioned in other blogs about my two breakdowns shortly after receiving awards at work–at two different jobs. My self esteem was so low that accepting any kind of encouragement or reward was just way out of my comfort zone. I couldn’t handle it. I failed at success! I mean I was doomed no matter what I did. Failure was imperfection and success was beyond me. Never did I dream that I needed to become a successful imperfectionist. How did the two even relate to each other? It was a dichotomy, just a senseless riddle and it had no place in my vocabulary. I was meant to learn and really understand how failure is a part of any successful life. But it was hard; I’m still not sure I’m there yet. I want to be, but am I? Maybe the answer to that doesn’t really matter; maybe just being aware of the continuum between the two is enough, for now.

Sometimes when I look back on my life, all I see is failure. My mind just doesn’t register successes. I have to turn a switch somewhere. I have to reorganize my thoughts to accept both these concepts as facts of life because that is what they are! I wouldn’t be lying to myself; in fact, rejecting them is lying to myself. I am telling myself lies! But what do I tell others about this? I tell them success doesn’t come without failure. Why can’t I tell myself the same thing? I have to or I am lying to others. That’s how I work it out. That’s how I come to accept it as truth in my life because it is truth in everyone’s life. I am not special in this regard. I can no longer believe the lies I am telling myself about failure and I have to accept that I can also succeed, have succeeded. I am succeeding now! And so are you. If you have trouble with failure and success, maybe you can also break free by changing the lies you are telling yourself into truths. Give it a go! Take a chance! You, too, can succeed at failure!

4 thoughts on “Meeting with Failure

  1. Thank you for sharing your struggles and encouragement. “Successful imperfectionist” is one to remember. I can relate to the idea of the importance of failure through study of the guitar. I could go through practice session after practice session thinking that I knew basic major and minor scales. However, one day, I failed to remember the exact finger placement of a G minor scale. I am used to playing it, and habit made me think I knew it, but failure drew me up short. After failing to play it properly, I realized what the chord was NOT, and that helped me know what IT WAS. So failure was the necessary ingredient to cement the new chord in the mind.

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