4 Apr


Failure: What does it mean?  When asked about my #1 fear, failure is always my answer.  Not spiders or snakes or drowning.  Those things don’t worry me at all.  Just the word failure, however, strikes fear into my heart.  Appropriately enough, the very first reading assignment I was given in my Master’s class was on failure – and learning to embrace and even celebrate it.  The article was “Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner” by Dr. Cheryl Lenz.

The entire time that I was reading I could feel my internal struggle, the desire to proclaim that the author was wrong and to run in the other direction.  I have discovered that she is not incorrect, though.  Life has taught me that failure cannot be avoided, therefore it should be embraced.  I’m not quite there yet, however.  Failure is still something I struggle against.

The concept of learning through failures (actually seeking them out, even), is something I vehemently fought against.  My mind was screaming that I learned just fine without ever failing.  That’s not really true, though.  Although I have never, ever received an ‘F,’ I have certainly never achieved perfection, either.  In fact, I know that it isn’t even possible.  Still, as I was reading my perfectionist mind was finding typos and mentally correcting them (like the word “prefect” instead of “perfect” at the top of page 154 – I wonder if that was intentional to drive people like me crazy?).

When I stop, take a breath, and really think about failure and what we can learn from it, I can see the wisdom in embracing it.  It is undeniably true that no one does anything flawlessly the first time.  I have also found that sometimes we learn the most from discovering how NOT to approach a problem, task, or process.  I used to feel like my failures were something to be embarrassed about, and to hide from the world.  That was my perfectionism in full force, telling me that anything less than exactly what I set out to do wasn’t worth anything.  As I’ve grown and been faced with less than perfect outcomes, I have also discovered that not all failures can be private. And some that could be maybe shouldn’t be. When I make myself vulnerable and admit my humanity I have found that people relate to me more.  No one is perfect, but even though we all know that we still try to keep up the façade.

Walking away from my marriage, admitting that I made a poor choice in a partner, and pursuing divorce was terrifying – probably the scariest thing I’ve done so far.  I never thought I would be divorced.  I believe in love and marriage.  “Giving up” on my marriage was something I didn’t want to do.  Sometimes you don’t have control over things, though.  I didn’t have any control over my husband’s addiction, his lies, his narcissist personality, or his lack of desire to be honest and trustworthy in our marriage.  I am figuring out how to give up control and learning from disappointments in life the hard way (because I’m a stubborn person).  Every day I strive to accept that I can’t plan out my life.  I can have goals and work towards them, but I cannot predict where life might take me.

A failure is only truly a negative thing when we let it be the end of the road.  I have been guilty of seeing a failure coming, and trying to avoid it at all costs, even if it meant giving up and walking away.  That has made me miss out on experiences that I could have learned from and grown as a person.  It is important to know your limitations, but we shouldn’t allow fear of failure to hold us back from achieving our dreams.  Resiliency is a gift, and it should be encouraged and honed.  I suppose that is one thing that failure teaches us.  🙂



9 Responses to “Failure.”

  1. Our Journey After His Affair April 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    One thing I always told my patients, “How do you know what success is without some sort of failure?”

  2. rgonaut April 4, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    Being a divorcee, is not about being a failure, its about something that failed, and your choice to stop being a continuting part of the failure. You didn’t let it “be the end of the road”.

  3. Lee Kaplanian April 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    I have been reading Julia Cameron and her books “The Artist”s Way” and “Vein of Gold” – she talks about giving yourself permission to try something and do it badly. I know I have a hard time with it, I want it to be if not perfect, at least really cool. Funny, I have a fear of getting it “wrong”. I remember in grade school when they did Standard School Broadcasts and at one point would play a piece of music. We had to draw a picture of what we saw in the music. I would make mine because it was what came to me, but when everyone else shared theirs and they seemed so much better than mine, I felt once again I got it wrong. Hmm, maybe that’s why I am having to work harder at listening and trusting my intuition.

    • beautifulmess7 April 4, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      I have had that same fear of getting things “wrong” or second-guessing my ideas when I see what someone else has done and judge it “more correct.” It’s hard to let that go and change that pattern in my life, but I’m trying.

  4. smittenwithhim April 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    “I use rejection to renew my humility and sharpen my objectivity.
    I learn more from my failures than my successes.
    I use both negative and positive feedback to keep on target.”
    Part of the motivational list that I have hanging by my desk because I am not very good at failure either. I understand that we have to fail to learn and grow, it just sucks so much! And in the case of a failed marriage it hurts too!

    Thank you for putting this out there 🙂 Maybe this is partly why I am having such a hard time leaving the husband — to break my “commitment” to him I would have to admit failure. Hmmm….

    • beautifulmess7 April 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

      That definitely is what had me holding on for so long. I didn’t want to be a divorcee. I did not want to admit failure. I put it all in myself and failure to realize or acknowledge that without his commitment and dedication there is no way the marriage could survive. I dragged my own pain and heartache out for a year and a half longer than I probably should have. That time of fighting against the inevitable taught me a lesson in acceptance and powerlessness and failure, though.

      Oh, I also love that quote!


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    […] Failure. ( […]

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