This subject has been on my heart for a while. Originally I wanted to talk about it at the beginning of the year as some New Year’s themed article. But I didn’t. Next I wanted to do it on my birthday this year. But I didn’t again. Thus I failed at exposing myself and my vulnerabilities (In fact I drafted this article several days ago and have been sitting on it.). The reluctance is probably attributive to the fact that admitting shortcomings in yourself publicly is not universally accepted or encouraged. From the time we are able to comprehend concepts we are taught to fear failure. Parents let their children win at everything. Footraces, eating contests, games, sports…children are allowed to win against their parents and are encouraged to celebrate those victories. I have two children, so I can speak from experience.
Real life is full of failures mixed with success. I do not think you can have one without the other. Failing comes in many forms and not just relegated to the notions of professional success or fame. I know many professionally successful individuals that are unhappy and depressed. I was one of these people at one time. From the outside it appeared I was on my way, but internally I was always angry, easily agitated, and over eating and drinking. Everyone feels the pain of failing in some area of their lives.
I recognize that some people have a greater appreciation for the concept of failing due to life experiences. My own journey began in New Jersey with a mother who either didn’t want me or didn’t have the capacity to take care of me and my two siblings and a father who left us at a very young age. My biological mother eventually gave us away. Life marches on, you make the best of it, but the experience leaves a life long impression.
The fear of failure can be debilitating. I struggle with it as an emotion every day. In fact you could say I have “failure fatigue.” At 45 years old I have failed…a lot! In fact to work through this therapeutic process let me list the ways. I have failed as a son. I have failed as a father. I have failed as a partner to my girlfriend. I have failed as a friend. I have failed as a student and as a professional. I have failed to keep my word or live up to promises. I have failed as a vegan. I have failed my physical and mental health. I have failed clients and colleagues. I have failed as a runner. In fact I just recently failed as a runner by bonking on a virtual marathon attempt. I have failed at controlling my emotions by getting angry, envious, jealous and prideful. I have failed my mental health by not meditating or practicing yoga consistently. I have failed financially. I have failed to be a good person. I have failed everyone in my life at one time or another.
Hi, my name is Jeremy and I have failed in life…BUT I am not a failure. Because it is a mindset right? For my purposes here, FAILING is the act of coming up short after putting yourself out there. Whereas FAILURE is a state of mind. So don’t go there. I know it is easier said than done. Writing this is part of my self realization as I currently struggle with the failure mindset in an area of my life at this moment in time. It’s a feeling that starts small but has the capacity to become a tsunami sized tidal wave consuming your mind and heart in a nothingness of depression. This feeling has the power to stop you in your tracks. You begin to justify not trying because it means not realizing failure. What do we do? How do we overcome this feeling and is that possible?
We start by accepting failing as part of the process of life. It will be a constant partner. Do not allow failure to overcome you as a feeling. I’m telling myself this too! “Jeremy failing is part of life.” Embrace it as part of your growth. Know that it means you are living life fully and not some passive observer. Learn from it. Build your success on top of it.
I believe in you. I believe in me.
Failing is just another ‘f’ word!