When have you absolutely, totally, and completely failed in life? Have you ever really contemplated those failures?
Yesterday my daughter auditioned for a place in the school special choir. Do I think she’ll make it? Not really. There were way more kids auditioning than there were spots. Yes, she has a sweet little voice, but it has it’s limitations as I described in the last post.
Do I think she’ll be devastated if she doesn’t make it? Not really. She will be sad. I think she would be devastated if she couldn’t ride a horse again.
But it won’t feel good. Failure never feels good. In fact, few things feel worse. I think that’s why we don’t talk about our failures. We talk about our joys and successes, we brag about our finest moments, we highlight our children when they are at the top of the game/class/audition. But we brush failures under the rug and into the closet.
Today I’m cleaning out the closet. What have my many failures meant to me?
Failure #1) I failed at marriage!
My early marriage was a failure. I was an angry, needy, volatile young bride with lousy communication skills. My marriage started out anything but blissful. I failed.
But, I didn’t give up. I knew I had married the right man. I knew there was a better way. We grew up, learned to communicate, learned to behave, and learned to be a part of a healthy, happy marriage. It has been 15 years (19 years together) and I am a failure no longer, not that there aren’t ugly failure-like moments. But what if I hadn’t failed that first year. Would I work as hard in my relationship today if I hadn’t learned everything that I did? Would I have the pride and respect for my marriage had we not overcome great obstacles to get to this place today? Maybe that failure was necessary. I took that failure and used it as a catalyst to make myself better and stronger.
Failure #2) I failed at becoming a dancer.
I fell in love with dancing in early college. I had never really taken a dance class until college. I loved learning to move, gaining strength, and becoming flexible. I started to dream of taking my dancing farther. I thought maybe I could change my major, do some auditioning… But, there is a saying, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” I add an updated version to that, “You can’t make a classical dancer out of a 5’9″ 19 year old with DD sized breasts.” I just didn’t have a dancer’s body. Well, maybe I did, but I’ve always been too much of a prude for THAT kind of dancing. I was a failure.
But, I did learn that I had the correct body type and enough ability for Middle Eastern Dancing. Even though it would never take me to Broadway, I spent time learning and enjoying the art of Bellydancing, and boy does it spark interesting conversations when it comes up at this stage of life! That failure took me a different direction and in turn I found a hobby that sustained my creative side for many years.
Failure #3) I failed at raising a dog.
My dog is an idiot. I read piles of puppy books. I took him to obedience classes. I watched hours upon hours of The Dog Whisperer. My dog is a moronic-monkey-butt who will bark like a maniac, attack men, and poop in my piano room.
There is no happy ending in this failure. But he’s cute and he is my Girl-Child’s best friend, and I paid $1000 to save him when he poisoned himself. So sometimes I guess I have to just embrace my failures for what they are, embrace where they take me, learn to love, and move on. This is a failure to be loved and accepted for what it is; a beautiful little disaster.
Failure #4) I’ve failed to become a writer.
My biggest dream (after becoming a mother- thank God I managed that one) has always been to become a writer. But I’ve failed to do it. I don’t make time. I love to write, but apparently not enough to write a book. Well, that and I haven’t ever come up with a fabulous story and have no idea how one even goes about writing a book and publishing it. I mean, it all seems pretty magical to me. I like the idea of waking up to a unicorn in my yard and my #1 best seller sitting on the coffee table. They both seem as likely.
So…. I blog. I don’t blog a ton. I don’t have hordes of readers. But it is cathartic to my soul. I have had random people in my life come to me and thank me for something I’ve written. It is a place where the thoughts in my head can wander out on their own and be seen. It is a way to harness my creativity. Sometimes funny, sometimes thoughtful, and sometimes nothing worth reading. It’s a functional failure. It’s a failure I’m still living with, trying to decide whether to revisit or release into the universe, as we just have to learn to do sometimes in life.
I’m not sure what will happen with my daughter and this audition, but I can be sure she too will face a number of life failures and will have to decide what to do with them. I hope she uses her failures to make her stronger, to change her focus, work through it, walk away from it having at least tried, or learns to love and embrace life’s messy moments for what they are. I hope she ultimately comes out stronger and better after each failure she is certain to experience in life.
Maybe one day I’ll write that book. At least I know that if I try and fail, that failure will become another life experience adding to the ever growing foundation of who I am.
Go out and try something. Fail at something. I’ll still love you. I promise!
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve, Fear of failure.” ~~Paulo Coelho