Today, I want to talk about something I am very familiar with, and will definitely only become more and more familiar with as time goes on and life gets more and more complex.
Today, we’re talking about failure.
To be quite frank, I’ve failed lots in life. In fact, I’m specifically making this my first blog post back after months of not posting because, in a sense, I feel like I have “failed” in this area of my life as well, but we’ll get to that a little later.
I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only one who is scared to fail. Sometimes just the brief thought of failure can make your stomach drop to the floor. Failure is something that used to absolutely cripple me. I tend to have a very dramatic “the sky is falling” mindset when it comes to…well…pretty much everything. That hasn’t changed much if I’m being honest. But, what has changed is my ability to not let failure win, and to instead harness it and turn it into something useful; maybe a life lesson, a directional change, a chance to start fresh.
Now, if I sat here and typed out every single failure of mine in life, this blog post would morph into an actual novel. So instead, I’m going to tell you about some of the bigger failures in my life, how I came to peace with them, and how choosing to find the silver lining in these failures has allowed me to flourish as an individual.
One of my first major fails in life was when I was 18 years old. If you happened to read my anxiety and depression blog post that I wrote a few months back, you’ll know that at 18 I was starting off my college career in a pre-health course and, to put it lightly, I was having a little bit of a rocky time. Obstacles seemed to pop up and spread like wildfire in my personal life, and with the state of my mental health being in the worst spot it had ever been I did not have the energy or the willpower to even attempt to push past them.
Issues in my extended family started getting worse and worse, I would skip classes like they didn’t even exist and kept falling farther and farther behind while the workload kept piling up. The deadline for applying to nursing programs for the following year kept creeping closer and closer, all while the majority of my grades were plummeting. The weight of all the obstacles began piling up and I felt like my world and everything I had known was crumbling around me.
Funny enough, what I just described isn’t even the parts in which I felt that I had failed. Surprisingly, with barely passing grades and one supplemental exam under my belt, I passed my pre-health program AND got accepted into a nursing program. It’s what came next that broke me. With my mental health in shambles and a year of schooling that I think actually may have traumatized me, I had to make the hard decision to pass up my offer to the nursing program, and re-route my path in life.
I don’t even think I can begin to explain how defeated and ashamed I felt. I think I cried for a week straight having to come up with the decision, admit the decision to myself and my parents, and have the constant thoughts running through my head of “what have I just done” after the decision had been officially made. I felt like I had altered the course of my entire life for the worse. I had wasted my time, I had wasted quite a lot of money, and I had absolutely no idea what direction I wanted to now go in life.
Little did I know, what I thought was me failing at the time was actually a blessing in disguise.
First of all, taking pre-health made me realize that I had absolutely no interest in being a nurse, or being in the health care field for that matter, and man did it ever give me the utmost respect for people who decide to take that path in life.
I ended up working full-time at Tim Hortons for a little over a year while I waited to go back to school for something else, and I feel like that year was extremely valuable for my growth as an individual. I had only ever worked the bare minimum while I was in school, so I was finally learning what it was like having the structure of a full-time job in my life.
I developed great relationships with my coworkers, I learned a lot about the value and responsibility of having money and I was extremely motivated to find something I was actually interested in going to school for. Ultimately, I decided on applying to a marketing program which has lead me to my current job, and I am truly more content than I have ever been. I feel accomplished, I feel hopeful for the future, and most of all I feel happy.
Another spot in my life that I used to feel that I absolutely failed in was my love life. You see, I was a late bloomer in life. I didn’t really have any relationship or romantic experience until I was 18 and boy, did I ever jump in head first when I got the opportunity.
From the ages of 18 to 21 I hoped and prayed to find someone that I thought could fill a missing part of me. I would always think to myself, if I could just find someone who thinks I’m beautiful, find someone who loves being around me, someone who appreciates me, then I will finally feel complete. I will finally feel like I succeeded. I will finally beat the “fat girl curse” I had convinced myself of in my head.
So, I would move on from guy to guy, lowering my standards and completely disregarding my happiness and my boundaries in hopes that I would find someone who would be willing to stick around. It didn’t matter to me that I was never comfortable around the people I “dated” and it never mattered to me that I didn’t like the majority of their actions, because in my head I thought “you’re still just feeling things out” or “you’re blowing things out of proportion”. I thought I just needed to keep my cool, play along and eventually we would both sort out our differences and fall magically in love. Needless to say, that did not happen.
After my last relationship, I thought I was doomed when it came to love and ever feeling complete in life. I had no self-confidence. I felt used. I was filled with so much hurt and so much doubt. Much like my failure with college, I sulked for quite some time. However, also like my failure with college, I have come out on the other side feeling better than I ever have. Sure I have my days where I feel down, about myself and my love life, but for the most part I am in the most positive spot I have ever been with myself.
It’s been about a year and a half since my last relationship, and since then I have become completely comfortable with being alone. Over this past year and a half of really only having myself to worry about, I have done a lot of self-reflecting which, in turn, has aided in a lot of realizations and healing. I am confident in who I am as a person. I’ve learned to value the time that I have to myself and use it in a way that benefits my well-being.
Most importantly, I’ve realized that the piece I was missing was never another person. I felt incomplete in life because I was never truly happy with just myself. Now that I am, I feel like I can conquer the world all on my own if I have to. Sure I still hope to one day find a partner to experience life with, but if I don’t then that’s okay, because making sure that I put my well-being first is what’s most important.
I’m sharing these experiences of failure with you for two reasons:
First of all, over the past few months I have really felt like a failure when it came to this blog. I was so excited at the beginning of the year to start blogging consistently, because sharing my stories and experiences in life in hopes that maybe it helps or resonates with even just one person is truly a passion of mine in life. But then, you know…2020 happened, and it’s still not even over.
Between being laid off from my job, to experiencing the effects of my first (and hopefully my last) ever global pandemic, to all the horrific societal and systematic injustices that have had a spotlight shined on them that have taken place not only this year but literally hundreds and hundreds of years prior…I just wasn’t in a spot where I felt motivated to write. When little sparks of inspiration did start to creep their way back into my mind, I was almost embarrassed to do anything with them; I had been gone for so long I thought “what’s the point?”
But, much like I’ve experienced in the past, things happen and things change, and instead of letting it permanently stifle me, I’m coming at it with a new approach and getting a fresh start. I hope to post weekly, but if that doesn’t happen I’m not going to convince myself that I should just give up. I’ll write when I’m inspired and I’ll write when I’m ready, and I hope you’re willing to stick around and read when those moments occur.
The most important reason why I decided to share all of this today though, is to hopefully get you to realize that it’s okay to fail. I know sometimes it’s hard to believe, but I truly like to think that everything happens for a reason. I’m also a huge believer in the sentiment that you’re the only one who has the power to control your life. If you happen to fail, take a deep breath, come up with a new approach, and start fresh.
Sometimes what feels like a failure is only just the beginning of a beautiful new direction in your life. As long as you take away a new lesson from whatever life puts you through, then you can never really fail in the end.