What are you excited to fail at?
Okay, that may not be entirely true… but let’s start at the beginning.
I don’t like failure. I am absolutely freaked out by the idea of failure. Yet ironically, I have become pretty familiar with the feelings associated with failure in the last few years. So now I have to confront it, for it has left me with no choice.
As a young(er) girl, I was a star student. Academically gifted, couldn’t fail a test even if I tried. And just FYI, I did try to fail a couple of times. It was for a ‘good’ reason I promise, but that’s a story for another day. The point is, even when I tried to purposely fail in tests, I still excelled at them.
I thought I was invincible!
Fast forward to adulthood – the real ghetto. I failed at something when I least expected it. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t even that major of a failure you know. And I don’t want to reveal what it was because you will probably wonder why I would be so bothered by such a small issue – but it really devastated me.
See, I have been through a ton of hardships and I would describe myself as resilient. But there was always the comfort that it wasn’t my fault that bad things happened to me or really it was out of my hands. Up until this point, I had always believe that if it was up to me, I was going to excel at it. Yet here I was, it was all up to me yet I was not able to deliver. That was a hard pill for me to swallow.
A strong belief of mine had always been (and really, it still is) that anything I set my mind to, I can succeed at. The only difference is that now I know that I can also fail, and that is okay. The perfectionist in me struggles with that but it is a fact I am embracing.
For this particular failure, it came down to this: I had not really failed at anything important to me before and in some way I interpreted this experience as a reflection of me. I saw it as ” I am a failure” rather than, “I failed at xyz .”
A few years down the line and I have tried and failed at many more things. Things that I would not even imagine failing at some years back. Yet, in the same breath, I have grown tremendously.
I have learned to extend (a lot of) grace to myself. To remember that everything I failed it is something I actually TRIED. Yes, I tried and failed but I tried. That counts for something, it counts for a lot actually 😀
Another big lesson for me has been that failure isn’t necessarily as horrible as I have conjured it up to me in my mind. Because, look, I have tried many things and failed, yet, I am still here. Thriving in other things and still trying new things. I win some and lose some and that is the nature of progress. The confidence I have to try more things and even succeed in some is because of all the lessons I learned from my failures.
What if I did not try?
Earlier this year, I attended a workshop where the speaker, Hayet Rida, talked about embracing failure to help you unlock your greatest successes. She said, “success is the sum of your failures where you did not lose your momentum. ” And that is something I am embracing more and more as I am in the process of reframing what failure means to me.
I am also embracing the idea of failing quickly and getting up quickly until you find that which you will succeed at.
It is not easy, I have to keep pushing myself out of the comfort zone and I would be lying if I said that I am not afraid of failure. Amazingly though, I have also learned that I don’t have to wait until I am fearless to try. I can jump in with all the fear and all the panic and I will figure it out. Or not. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail but all in all I am growing.
One phrase that stuck with me from that workshop was “the comeback story will be stronger than your setback story” and that is exciting to think about.
As the workshop was coming to a close, Hayet asked us to write one thing that we are excited to fail at this year. I wrote one of my biggest dreams this year down because the only thing that has been holding me back from doing it is the fear of failing at it.
So what if I fail?
What if I do not fail though?
There is a freedom that comes with taking back the narrative on failure. Failure is part of my story, and I love myself more for it.
As I finish, allow me to leave you with the same question Hayet asked us, what are you excited to fail at this year?