What failure means to me right now
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Having just listened to a totally inspiring online talk with Elizabeth Day. Author of the classic read 'How to Fail' and the newly-published 'Failosophy', it made me think about my own views on failure. The failures I have experienced in my past, and those that I think I am experiencing right now. The feeling of failure is not a good one. It usually comes with a sickening, tightening sense of fear, questioning and regret. Why has this happened to me? What did I do wrong? Why am I so unlucky? These are all questions I've asked myself many a time, and maybe you have too?
So, what does failure actually really mean to me right now? Deep breathe, here we go.
Failure for me, means..
...turning up to teach my yoga class with only 2 people having booked on
...not earning enough money to be able to treat my parents to a luxury holiday of a lifetime
...losing my job three times in the past three years - despite feeling like I'd done a f***ing great job at each one
...feeding my son's fish fingers and beans for dinner because I didn't have time to make anything better
...not being able to get the TV remote control to work and then my husband doing it first time
...not looking as sexy or wearing as good a clothes as I did in my twenties
...posting an Instagram post that I think is amazing and only getting 28 likes
...crying too often. And in front of my sons
...forgetting to send my son's PE to school on the right day and getting 'that' look from the teacher
...having to empty out my savings account yet again to stop me from going into my overdraft
...feeling like my thirties have been a total struggle mentally, despite people saying they are the best years of your life
...seeing friends and peers appearing more successful, with bigger houses, better jobs, cooler clothes and nicer skin!
I mean, I could go on. Basically, I feel that us women as so hard on ourselves. Especially in our thirties, having been used to being so successful and independent, then overnight we become slaves to our children, cleaners, chefs and counsellors. And then, whilst being knackered 99% of the time, we are also trying to claw back the careers we once had in our twenties as well as trying to remain cool, elegant and thin! Wow, even writing it makes me anxious.
The pandemic has also made things worse by taking away those little things that we clung onto for sanity - like group exercise classes and meeting our best friends for wine and giggles and to reminisce about funny stories from the past. The failures just seem so much more prominent because there is nothing to balance them out right now.
But, having listened to Elizabeth and her experience of failure, it gave me hope. Hope to keep going and trying out new things without the fear of them blowing up in my face. Most people have experienced failure in their lives, and in fact, if life didn't give us failure, then we wouldn't experience that blissful gratitude that goes with finding small rays of success.
Also, it made me think that actually, a lot of the time, our failures come as a result of the failures of others, which we don't often think about. i.e. the work contract I lost this week was actually a result of the unsuccessful containment of the Covid pandemic, teamed with my client's inability to manage her finances successfully through this time. In a way, just thinking about it in these terms makes you feel a little better about it.
I now have faith that my yoga classes will fill up again soon (once we are out of this mess), my son's won't hate me for feeding them a Bird's Eye special every now and again, and one day I will get those first class tickets to Barbados for my parents. I just know it. x